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Dignitas Resources: Dignity

Learn about the Dignitas Program at The College of St. Scholastica.

Randall Poole, PhD

Randall Poole, PhD
Associate Professor, History
(218) 723-6468

Randall A. Poole is Associate Professor of History at the College of St. Scholastica. Before coming to St. Scholastica in 2004, he taught at the University of Notre Dame (1997-1999) and Boston University (1999-2004). He has held research fellowships at New York University, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Stanford University, Columbia University, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, and the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow (where he was a Fulbright scholar). He has also been a research associate of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at Notre Dame, a faculty fellow of the International History Institute at Boston University, and an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Since 2008 he has been an affiliate member of the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Spring 2012 he was Visiting Professor of Russian Intellectual History at the University of Toronto.

Professor Poole's research and writing focus on Russian and European intellectual history, the history of ideas, and the history of philosophical and religious thought. Since 1990, he has delivered more than fifty scholarly papers and lectures at academic conferences and universities in the United States and abroad. He teaches courses in world, European, and Russian history.



Human dignity is the idea that every person is an end-in-itself who ought never to be treated merely as a means. It is the foundational moral principle--the citerion by which we evaluate all other moral claims. Human dignity is about honoring and respecting each other as persons created in the image and likeness of God.

Selected Bibliography

  • Richard Amesbury and George Newlands, Faith and Human Rights: Christianity and the Global Struggle for Human Dignity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008).
  • Michael Barilan, Human Dignity, Human Rights, and Responsibility: The New Language of Global Bioethics and Biolaw (Basic Bioethics) (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012).
  • Rufus Burrow, Jr., God and Human Dignity: The Personalism, Theology, and Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr. (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006).
  • Regis A. Duffy and Angelus Gambatese, eds., Made in God's Image: The Catholic Vision of Human Dignity (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1999).
  • Ronald Dworkin, Is Democracy Possible Here? Principles for a New Political Debate (Princeton University Press, 2006). Ch. 1 “Common Ground” contains a good section on “The Two Dimensions of Human Dignity”; also see ch. 3 “Religion and Dignity.”
  • Sr. Katherine Feely, Human Dignity (2009): Education for Justice, Brochure (10 pp.) summarizing Catholic teaching on the topic, available in PDF online.
  • Francis Fukuyama, “Human Dignity,” ch. 9 of his Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002).
  • Amy Gilbert, “Critical Texts on Justice and the Basis of Human Dignity,” a short bibliographic review published in The Hedgehog Review (2007) and available in PDF online.
  • Human Dignity and Bioethics: Essays Commissioned by the President’s Council of Bioethics (Washington, D.C., 2008): A collection of valuable essays by leading authorities, available in PDF online.
  • Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in: Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. and ed. Mary J. Gregor (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
  • George Kateb, Human Dignity (Harvard University Press, 2011).
  • Jacques Maritain, Christianity and Democracy. The Rights of Man and Natural Law (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986). Maritain was one of the great philosophers of human dignity. The Rights of Man and Natural Law in this volume is one of his several expositions of the concept.
  • Daniel C. Maquire and A. Nicholas Fargnoli, “The Basis of Moral Choice,” ch. 1 of their On Moral Grounds:  The Art/Science of Ethics (New York: Crossroads, 1991). 
  • Christopher McCrudden, ed., Understanding Human Dignity (Oxford University Press, 2013). Large volume of proceedings from the British Academy.
  • Gilbert Meilaender, Neither Beast nor God: The Dignity of the Human Person (New York: Encounter Books, 2009).
  • Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man: A New Translation and Commentary, ed. Francesco Borghesi, Michael Papio, and Massimo Riva (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
  • Jurgen Moltmann, On Human Dignity: Political Theology and Ethics (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007).
  • Martha C. Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (Harvard University Press, 2011).
  • Martha C. Nussbaum, Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America’s Tradition of Religious Equality (New York: Basic Books, 2008).
  • John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, revised ed. (Harvard University Press, 1999).
  • Michael Rosen, Dignity: Its History and Meaning (Harvard University Press, 2012).
  • R. Kendall Soulen and Linda Woodhead, eds., God and Human Dignity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).
  • Jeremy Waldron, Dignity, Rank, and Rights (Oxford University Press, 2012).