Homo dignus: human dignity in economics

Research project
Ard Jan Biemond

What is man? What is his place on earth? And what is his role in the economy? These are the fundamental questions to which we try to find answers in this research program. Our junior researcher Ard Jan Biemond studies both the historical ideas about the human being and the concrete theories about his place in economics and organization.

In the first place, he researches the ideas and thoughts about man that have been developed over the past millennia. The idea of human dignity is its central node: the idea that man is not just an animal, but a special being with a value that transcends that of other life forms. According to the Christian tradition, man is created in the image of God, and therefore has unique value. The humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola coined the term dignitas, or dignity, for this unique value of man.

In the second place, he examines how the view of man in economics has been formed, and what place human dignity occupies and should occupy in it. The starting point of this research is the economist and clergyman Thomas Malthus, who emphasized the limitations of the physical economy. From the perspective of dignity, he pleaded for a moral approach of these boundaries. From the perspective of dignity, an image of humanity for the economy is developed that does embeds dignity, with the name homo dignus (dignified man). It incorporates both human dignity and human limitations, in such a way that justice is done to both.

In the third place, he conducts research into ideas about human dignity in society and the organization. What is meant by human dignity today? Which ideas and convictions are associated with dignity today? Parallel to this is the research into the role of dignity in the organization. What role does human dignity play in dealing with each other in business? Do people treat each other with dignity, or are people used only as instruments to pursue economic goals?

This research will result in a dissertation, in which all findings will be given their due place. The whole formulates the role that human dignity could play in the economy and the organization, and thus aims to be a helping hand for those who are concerned with human relations in the economy and organization.

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