Human dignity and human tissue: a meaningful ethical relationship?

Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (9):552-556 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Human dignity has long been used as a foundational principle in policy documents and ethical guidelines intended to govern various forms of biomedical research. Despite the vast amount of literature concerning human dignity and embryonic tissues, the majority of biomedical research uses non-embryonic human tissue. Therefore, this contribution addresses a notable lacuna in the literature: the relationship, if any, between human dignity and human tissue. This paper first elaborates a multidimensional understanding of human dignity that overcomes many of the shortcomings associated with the use of human dignity in other ethical debates. Second, it discusses the relationship between such an understanding of human dignity and ‘non-embryonic’ human tissue. Finally, it considers the implications of this relationship for biomedical research and practice involving human tissue. The contribution demonstrates that while human tissue cannot be said to have human dignity, human dignity is nevertheless implicated by human tissue, making what is done with human tissue and how it is done worthy of moral consideration



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,907

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Human dignity as a right.Shaoping Gan - 2009 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):370-384.
Human Dignity as a Right.Gan Shaoping & Zhang Lin - 2009 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (3):370 - 384.
Ethical issues in neurografting of human embryonic cells.G. J. Boer - 1999 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 20 (5):461-475.
Believing in the Dignity of Human Embryos.Michael Hauskeller - 2011 - Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics 17 (1):53-65.
Human Dignity as High Moral Status.Manuel Toscano - 2011 - Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 6 (2):4-25.
Torture. How denying Moral Standing violates Human Dignity.Andreas Maier - forthcoming - In Webster Elaine & Kaufmann Paulus (eds.), Violations of Human Dignity. Springer.
Protecting Human Dignity in Research Involving Humans.Thomas De Koninck - 2009 - Journal of Academic Ethics 7 (1-2):17-25.
Persons, Human Beings, and Respect.Peter Baumann - 2007 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):5-17.
Is the Creation of Admixed Embryos “an Offense against Human Dignity”?David Jones - 2010 - Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics 16 (1):87-114.


Added to PP

68 (#244,717)

6 months
9 (#352,506)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

David Kirchhoffer
Australian Catholic University

Citations of this work

Defining Dignity and Its Place in Human Rights.Lucy Michael - 2014 - The New Bioethics 20 (1):12-34.
Organs as inheritable property?Teck Chuan Voo & Soren Holm - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (1):57-61.
Human dignity and consent in research biobanking.D. G. Kirchhoffer & K. Dierickx - 2012 - South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 5 (2):74--77.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity.Charles Taylor - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (1):187-190.
The Decent Society.Avishai Margalit - 1996 - Ethics 107 (4):729-731.
The Community of Rights.Alan Gewirth - 1997 - Philosophy 72 (282):609-612.
The Community of Rights.Alan Gewirth - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (195):250-252.

View all 11 references / Add more references