Robert Kraynak has published a very fine essay in the current issue of The New Atlantis . In the essay, he argues—quite compellingly, to my mind—that contemporary efforts to appeal to human dignity need foundations that those who make the appeal typically are unable to provide.
I’ll leave you with his question.
What is so strange about our age is that demands for respecting human rights and human dignity are increasing even as the foundations for those demands are disappearing. In particular, beliefs in man as a creature made in the image of God, or an animal with a rational soul, are being replaced by a scientific materialism that undermines what is noble and special about man, and by doctrines of relativism that deny the objective morality required to undergird human dignity. How do we account for the widening gap between metaphysics and morals today? How do we explain justice without foundations a virtue that seems to exist like a table without legs, suspended in mid-air? What is holding up the central moral beliefs of our times?
You’ll have to read the essay to see how he answers it.