The author aims to work out a proper legal concept of «human dignity», abandoning both the Kantian view as well as its prior moral and religious meaning. The dignity no longer has the meaning of an ontological gift of the human being, but it is linked to the merit of a person. Human dignity is seen as opposite to a person's identity - conceived of as a self-ascription - and, partially according to Hasso Hofmann, as the result of the social recognition of the people as well as the institutional recognition of the legal system. The latter allocates rights to the individual as long as he fulfils his duties towards others, the first among them being to respect their rights. This conception has consequences concerning the graduation and the offence of dignity that are exemplified firstly with regard to criminal law, and secondly in a socio-legal perspective.