As soon as human dignity descends from the heights of the philosophical axiom to the practicalities of a legislative context, an effort of hermeneutics and reasoning is called for to define its scope and, if possible, its contents. The principle that is found most frequently in the various papers is that of autonomy, meaning more, however, than just the freedom of the individual, considered in isolation from reality and the social context that he or she inhabits: here it is the individual’s capacity-freedom to channel his/her choices in concrete directions. The question of whether the use of a pre-legal category such as human dignity actually plays an important role, strengthening the declaration of laws, or whether its value is ultimately merely rhetorical, must necessarily remain unanswered. The gravest risk being run, on the other hand, is that of attempting to extend the idea of human dignity from the tangible human being to humanity as a whole: this would transform the reference to human dignity from an insurmountable obstacle erected to defend the individual into a tool of the very kind of interference in the personal sphere that it was originally invoked to counteract.
Keywords: Human dignity, Individual, Human rights, Freedom