Deciphering Dignity

American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 10, No. 7, pp. 59-61, July 2010

University of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-28

Posted: 12 Jul 2010  

Leslie Meltzer Henry

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This commentary draws on dignity’s usage in law, ethics, and public policy to contemplate a narrow question about what the concept of dignity means in debates about human enhancement technologies. In particular, it considers arguments made by Fabrice Jotterand and other bioethicists who aim to repudiate the transhumanist claim that individuals can enhance their dignity through technological modification. The trouble with the positions on both sides of this debate is that it is extremely difficult to make normative comparisons about human and post-human dignity without first infusing dignity with particular metaphysical assumptions. To that end, the commentary offers a brief taxonomy of dignity to illustrate the various meanings of dignity that animate the debate between Jotterand and the transhumanists, and it demonstrates how the taxonomy can clarify and lend moral salience to the issues at hand.

Keywords: Dignity, Bioethics, Fabrice Jotterand

Suggested Citation

Henry, Leslie Meltzer, Deciphering Dignity (2010). American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 10, No. 7, pp. 59-61, July 2010; University of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1629765

Leslie Meltzer Henry (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States
410-706-4480 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.umaryland.edu/faculty/profiles/faculty.html?facultynum=616

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.bioethicsinstitute.org/people/leslie-meltzer-henry

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