Human Dignity: Reflections Around its Core Protective Goal and Some of its Actual Challenges

Nowadays, the potential that the legal concept of human dignity has to confront imminent challenges (e.g., AI, the integrity of the human species, or the control of personal data) is often remarked. Indeed, there are good reasons to believe that human dignity can play a significant role when resolving juridical conflicts related to those challenges. However, it should not be forgotten that the efficacy of dignity as an orienting tool in these scenarios depends on a clear recognition of its core protective aim. This paper intends to introduce how a correct dogmatic approximation to the concept is one of the key elements in this last issue.

Human Dignity: From Metatheoretical Uncertainty

Human dignity and autonomy are two concurring grounds brought to bear in moral dilemmas. These often point toward contrary solutions although harmonizing arguments may be provided (such as one recently undertaken by the German Constitutional Court). I gather an argument explaining the role of human dignity as a constraint on claiming exclusivity for naturalist or supernaturalist premises. This secures convergence in our pluralist societies but leaves a number of (publicly) relevant questions open. I discuss this point through the idea of metatheoretical uncertainty and the role of “in dubio pro X” clauses.

The Role of Human Dignity in AI Design: Shattering the Idle of Self-Determination

The attentive analysis of the European documents on AI demonstrates that they are critically influenced by the four principles of bioethics by Beauchamp and Childress. However, European philosophers have been discussing that the four principles are unsuited to Europe for 20 years. Therefore, we mainly ask in this article whether the European Institutions adopted and promoted a “European” Approach to artificial intelligence with the recent documents regarding the applications of artificial intelligence. To answer this question, we consider the concept of human dignity and its relation with the right to self-determination in the light of European Union law and the case-law of the European Courts. We conclude that the “dignitarian” use of the concept as an objective criteria in the case-law of the European courts illustrates that human dignity could pose a limit to (i) the kind of AI applications we develop and (ii) the kind of uses we allow, even when freely chosen by the individual.