Human Dignity and Health Law: Personhood in Recent Bioethical Debate

28 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2011 Last revised: 20 Sep 2014

See all articles by Zachary R. Calo

Zachary R. Calo

Valparaiso University Law School

Date Written: August 28, 2011


This Article considers how the idea of human dignity has shaped, and been shaped by, recent bioethical debates, particularly concerning the issue of genetic engineering and enhancement. While the language of human dignity has long had a role in bioethics, the issue of genetic manipulation has raised anew fundamental questions about the nature of personhood and the meaning of dignity. Particular attention is given to Ronald Green’s “Babies by Design,” George Kateb's “Human Dignity,” Gilbert Meilaender's “Neither Beast Nor God: The Dignity of the Human Person,” Robert George's and Christopher Tollefsen's “Embryo: A Defense of Human Life,” Michael Sandel’s “The Case against Perfection,” and Jürgen Habermas's “The Future of Human Nature.”

Keywords: human dignity, health law, bioethics

Suggested Citation

Calo, Zachary, Human Dignity and Health Law: Personhood in Recent Bioethical Debate (August 28, 2011). Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy 26 (2012): 473-499. Available at SSRN:

Zachary Calo (Contact Author)

Valparaiso University Law School ( email )

656 S. Greenwich St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383-6493
United States
219.465.7970 (Phone)


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