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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 14 October 2019

Is Dignity Language Useful in Bioethical Discussion of Assisted Suicide and Abortion?

Is Dignity Language Useful in Bioethical Discussion of Assisted Suicide and Abortion?

Chapter:
(p.525) 31 Is Dignity Language Useful in Bioethical Discussion of Assisted Suicide and Abortion?
Source:
Understanding Human Dignity
Author(s):

David Albert Jones

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.003.0031

Dignity language is used on both sides of debates surrounding assisted suicide and abortion. This chapter asks, first, whether these current uses of dignity add anything to these debates that is not reducible to other concepts or principles, and, second, whether discussion of dignity can help create a practical consensus between positions which have hitherto been irreconcilable. In both contexts dignity may seem to add little to considerations of autonomy (‘dignity as liberty’) and respect for human life (‘dignity as life’). However, considering human dignity helps disclose both the emotional attraction of assisted suicide and a deeper ethical problem with this proposal. In relation to abortion, dignity may spark discussion around the edges of the policy debates, but without agreement as to the central question of the status of the ‘disputed other’, that is, the foetus or unborn child, the deeper disagreement will remain.

Keywords:   dignity, assisted suicide, disability, abortion, embryo, consensus, instrumentalization

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