Another look at dignity.

Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom.
Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics (Impact Factor: 0.85). 02/2004; 13(1):7-14. DOI: 10.1017/S0963180104131034
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: This paper has its origins in Jonathan Mann's insight that the experience of dignity may explain the reciprocal relationships between health and human rights. It follows his call for a taxonomy of dignity: "a coherent vocabulary and framework to characterize dignity." Grounded theory procedures were use to analyze literature pertaining to dignity and to conduct and analyze 64 semi-structured interviews with persons marginalized by their health or social status, individuals who provide health or social services to these populations, and people working in the field of health and human rights. The taxonomy presented identifies two main forms of dignity-human dignity and social dignity-and describes several elements of these forms, including the social processes that violate or promote them, the conditions under which such violations and promotions occur, the objects of violation and promotion, and the consequences of dignity violation. Together, these forms and elements point to a theory of dignity as a quality of individuals and collectives that is constituted through interaction and interpretation and structured by conditions pertaining to actors, relationships, settings, and the broader social order. The taxonomy has several implications for work in health and human rights. It suggests a map to possible points of intervention and provides a language in which to talk about dignity.
    BMC International Health and Human Rights 03/2009; 9:3. · 1.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current developments in biomedicine are presenting us with difficult ethical decisions and raising complex policy questions about how to regulate these new developments. Particularly vexing for governments have been issues related to human embryo experimentation. Because some of the most promising biomedical developments, such as stem cell research and nuclear somatic transfer, involve such experimentation, several international bodies have drafted documents aimed to provide guidance to governments when developing biomedical science policy. Here I focus on two such documents: the Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being and the Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being. I argue that by using human dignity as a criterion to determine the permissibility of particular human embryo research practices, these documents cannot aid in identifying research that would be contrary to human dignity. Thus, they fail to guide public policy on embryo experimentation. Their use of human dignity as a criterion makes their task of offering guidance unfeasible because the concept as used in these documents is too vague and is applied in contradictory ways. I discuss the main goals of these documents and their claims in relation to human embryo research. I then discuss how they have influenced public policy in several countries. Finally, I show that although these Council of Europe treaties attempt to serve as public policy guides in the area of embryo research, they fail to do so.
    Bioethics 08/2009; 25(1):37-45. · 1.33 Impact Factor
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    EMBO Reports 12/2011; 13(1):12-6. · 7.19 Impact Factor


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