Dignity is discussed all the time. The literature on dignity is vast; one paper estimates that 1200 books and 11,000 articles were published on dignity in English from 1970-2003 (Witte, 2003).

This literature review tries to survey that work. It covers dignity in aid, development, law, medicine and rights, and discusses some adjacent concepts to dignity, like capabilities and wellbeing. Then we examine philosophy’s view on dignity – in the West and elsewhere, showing how ideas of dignity have varied over time and place. Finally, it turns to describing the various efforts that have been made to measure respect.

Please note that this review is a work in progress. It is deliberately sprawling and exploratory. Notes are highlighted in yellow, but all sections are still being developed. We are publishing it as a hopefully useful resource – but there is still a lot more to read and to learn.

Read the in-progress literature review here.