Biotechnologies and Human Dignity
Marion Albers, Biotechnologies and Human Dignity, in: Grimm/Kemmerer/Möllers (Eds.), Human Dignity in Context, München/Oxford/Baden-Baden: C. H. Beck/Hart/Nomos, 2018 (Forthcoming)
57 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 16, 2017
With their potential for bringing about radical transformations, advanced biotechnologies are forcing the notion and boundaries of what is human to be revisited. This creates a new background for the normative concepts of human rights, rights of the individual and human dignity. Through reference to the dignity of a human being and to the idea of dignity, the concept of human dignity implies notions attached to what constitutes being human. This fundamental meaning is supported by the multifarious traditions of human dignity, by its function as a key concept in interdisciplinary debates and not least by its prominent status in legal texts and discourses. Views of the role of human dignity, though, could not be more divergent. The conviction that dignity is an essential normative concept is juxtaposed with criticism that it is useless, nebulous, incoherent or even reactionary. This article starts by providing an overview of significant biotechnological fields and visions as well as of essential discussions referring to human dignity. Biotechnologies will prove to be a productive field of reference for discourse about human dignity, and the idea of human dignity is by no means useless or reducible to an umbrella term or to a mere placeholder for other interests such as autonomy or equal respect The second part of the article examines, particularly with regard to new challenges of biotechnologies, legal contexts of human dignity, especially texts and documents enshrining human dignity, legislation, the reasoning of courts and scientific discourses. The final part explains the need to contextualize and differentiate the concept of human dignity – a concept that is probably more obviously than ever before a social construction as well as an extraordinarily complex legal conception.
Keywords: human dignity, biotechnology, biolaw, fundamental rights, human rights
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation