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Undignified bioethics

Cochrane, Alasdair (2010) Undignified bioethics. Bioethics, 24 (5). pp. 234-241. ISSN 0269-9702

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2009.01781.x


The concept of dignity is pervasive in bioethics. However, some bioethicists have argued that it is useless on three grounds: that it is indeterminate; that it is reactionary; and that it is redundant. In response, a number of defences of dignity have recently emerged. All of these defences claim that when dignity is suitably clarified, it can be of great use in helping us tackle bioethical controversies. This paper rejects such defences of dignity. It outlines the four most plausible conceptions of dignity: dignity as virtuous behaviour; dignity as inherent moral worth; Kantian dignity; and dignity as species integrity. It argues that while each conception is coherent, each is also fundamentally flawed. As such, the paper argues for a bioethics without dignity: an ‘undignified bioethics.’

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 Wiley Blackwell
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2009 12:38
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2024 02:36

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