Human dignity, biolaw, and the basis of moral community

Authors: Brownsword, R.

Journal: Journal de Medecine Legale Droit Medical

Volume: 55

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 149-160

ISSN: 0249-6208


This paper argues that the concept of human dignity, as currently contested, offers no clear guidance to lawmakers. Within the "bioethical triangle", human dignity has a quite different significance depending upon whether one is a utilitarian, a human rights theorist, or a dignitarian. Having rejected the possibility of an easy accommodation between these views, it is suggested that we should conceive of human dignity as a precondition for (any form of) moral community - specifically, a setting in which humans try to do the right thing and accept responsibility for their freely chosen actions. If lawmakers re-focus on human dignity in this way, they will have some important guidance in the face of a raft of emerging technologies.

Source: Scopus

Preferred by: Roger Brownsword