Gunther Von hagens' body worlds: Selling beautiful education

American Journal of Bioethics 7 (4):12 – 23 (2007)
In the BODY WORLDS exhibitions currently touring the United States, Gunther von Hagens displays human cadavers preserved through plastination. Whole bodies are playfully posed and exposed to educate the public. However, the educational aims are ambiguous, and some aspects of the exhibit violate human dignity. In particular, the signature cards attached to the whole-body plastinates that bear the title, the signature of Gunther von Hagens, and the date of creation mark the plastinates as artwork and von Hagens as the artist in a gesture that strips the personal dignity from the donors. I conclude that the educational use of cadavers is compatible with respect for dignity if: 1) the utility of such use is great enough; 2) there are no other ways of achieving these ends; and 3) every effort is made to honor the dignity of the donors.
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