Democratic transformations in the United Kingdom: The potential of human dignity

This paper will examine the ways in which some members of the senior judiciary have begun to explore the potential of human dignity to transform the meaning of democracy. The paper will explore how human dignity is being relied on to reconceive democracy as a community of moral equals, which requires that any exercise of collective power be justified on the basis of principles that express concern for the basic needs of human beings, and equal respect for their creative potential. It also considers the way that democracy – as a community of moral equals – is understood to be composed of constructive relationships between the individual, wider community, and the public institutions of that community. It is argued that respect for human dignity is seen as a building block of relationships of inclusion and cooperation that are important to the functioning of democracy, whilst denials of respect are damaging not only to the individual concerned but to those relationships.