Human Dignity in Bioethics and Biolaw

Hardcover | November 1, 2001

byDeryck Beyleveld, Roger Brownsword

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The concept of human dignity is increasingly invoked in bioethical debate and, indeed, in international instruments concerned with biotechnology and biomedicine. While some commentators consider appeals to human dignity to be little more than rhetoric and not worthy of serious consideration,the authors of this groundbreaking new study give such appeals distinct and defensible meaning through an application of the moral theory of Alan Gewirth.In Part One, the book seeks to bring human dignity more clearly into focus. It sketches two opposed conceptions, 'human dignity as empowerment', which treats human rights as based on the intrinsic dignity of humans, identified with individual autonomy, and 'human dignity as constraint', which actsas an umbrella for a number of duty-driven approaches. While viewing human dignity primarily as empowerment, the authors argue that it is not autonomy as such, but vulnerable agency around which dignity as the basis of human rights is to be analyzed. Alongside this, they develop the idea ofdignity as a virtue, specifically as a practical attitude to be cultivated in the face of human finitude and vulnerability. At its sharpest, dignity as a virtue indicates the aspirational path of responsible and rational agency in the context of the existential anxiety that is part and parcel ofthe human condition. During this analysis they pay particular attention to the similarities and differences between Kantian and Gewirthian theory.In Part Two, the authors apply their analysis of dignity as generating rights and responsibilities to a range of activities (such as pre-natal selection, commodification of the human body, cloning, and euthanasia) running from birth with dignity through to death with dignity, and subject the use of'human dignity' in existing regulatory frameworks to critical scrutiny.

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From the Publisher

The concept of human dignity is increasingly invoked in bioethical debate and, indeed, in international instruments concerned with biotechnology and biomedicine. While some commentators consider appeals to human dignity to be little more than rhetoric and not worthy of serious consideration,the authors of this groundbreaking new study...

Deryck Beyleveld is Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Sheffield Institute of Biotechnological Law and Ethics. Roger Brownsword is Professor of Law and head of the Department of Law at the University of Sheffield

other books by Deryck Beyleveld

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Consent in the Law

Hardcover|Jan 26 2007

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:298 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.87 inPublished:November 1, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198268262

ISBN - 13:9780198268260

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Table of Contents

1. Human Dignity and Human Rights: Human Dignity as Empowerment2. Human Dignity and the New Bioethics: Human Dignity as Constraint3. Dignity, Human Dignity, and Dignified Conduct4. The Principle of Generic Consistency and Its Justification5. Kant and Gewirth6. Dignity, Rights, and Virtue under the Principle of Generic Consistency7. Being Born with Dignity: Selecting the Genetic Characteristics of Offspring8. Living with Dignity I: Ownership and Commodification of the Human Body and Its Parts9. Living wih Dignity II: Patents and Contracts10. Living with Dignity III: Prolonging Life, Denying Death, and Cosmetic Augmentation11. Dying with DignityBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`... the book steps flawlessly through thematic constructs ... the treatment of use of genetic material is a welcome departure from the purely philosophical and makes compelling reading.'Bio-Science Law Review, Vol. 5 Issue 2, 2001/2