Preview Response

Justice / Theology

Jennifer Herdt

Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics, Yale Divinity School


Do we have obligations of justice only to fellow human beings, or also to non-human animals? potential trans-humans, robots, and extra-terrestrials?

To what extent is what is owed to another determined by their membership in a particular natural kind, i.e., their humanity?  And to what extent is it determined by particular features of that individual, or of particular social groups or institutions to which that individual belongs?

Defenders of inalienable natural rights (e.g., Locke, Frederick Douglass) often insist that while these natural rights cannot be taken away, they can be forfeited, together with the dignity of humanity.  What is secured by theological affirmations of the imago dei and of universal human dignity if theological justifications for the forfeiture of that dignity can and are often given?