Constitutional dignity

Ashleigh Barnes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been argued that dignity was recognised in Clubb v Edwards ('Clubb') as an Australian constitutional value. This means that Australia must confront the well-recognised confusion and criticisms concerning dignity as a legal concept. It is widely claimed that the meaning of dignity remains either indeterminate or incoherent, or both. This article argues that the meaning of dignity can be sufficiently determinate and coherent. The route to this conclusion is not to insist on a single formula across jurisdictions and contexts such as autonomy, equality or non-fungibility. Instead, drawing on the dominant conceptions, I propose a holistic four-dimensional approach to dignity. Guided by this definition, I offer an investigation into and explanation of the meaning of Australian constitutional dignity in Clubb.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-725
Number of pages43
JournalMelbourne University Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


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