Human dignity and the dignity of creatures

In their report for the Swiss government onthe notion of the dignity of creatures, PhilippBalzer, Klaus-Peter Rippe, and Peter Schaber analyzethe relationship between human dignity and the dignityof creatures, taking them as two categoricallydifferent concepts. Human dignity is defined as the``moral right not to be humiliated,'' whereas thedignity of creatures is taken to be ``the inherentvalue of nonhuman living beings.'' To my mind there isno need to draw a categorical distinction between thetwo concepts. Both notions could be brought togetherunder an all-encompassing concept of the inherentvalue of living beings, humans and non-humans alike,a concept one could name ``the dignity of livingbeings.'' Indeed, this very notion underlies theposition taken in the report, although this is notmade explicit by the authors themselves.As the aim of the paper is only to clarify theconcepts used, I do not go beyond this ``internal''critique of their position, i.e., I don't assess howthe claims articulated via these concepts – theclaim that humans and/or creatures have an inherentvalue consisting in a supposed intrinsic good – areto be justified, although I myself would be ratherskeptical that this might be successfully done.
Keywords dignity of creatures  genetic engineering  human dignity  inherent value  Swiss Constitution
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009535129202
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Anders Melin (2004). Genetic Engineering and the Moral Status of Non-Human Species. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 17 (6):479-495.

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