End-of-life issues and questions are complex and frequently cause confusion and anxiety. In Death with Dignity,theologian, medical ethicist, and pastoral caregiver Peter A. Clark examines numerous issues that are pertinent to patients, family members, and health care professionals, including physiology, consciousness, the definition of death, the distinction between extraordinary and ordinary means, medical futility, “Do Not Resuscitate” orders, living wills, power of attorney, pain assessment and pain management, palliative and hospice care, the role of spirituality in end-of-life care, and physicians’ communication with terminal patients. Patients, family members, medical students, and health care professionals will find in Death with Dignity thepractical and ethical knowledge they need to capably and confidently cope with end-of-life challenges.
The right-to-die debate has gone on for centuries, playing out most recently as a spectacle of protest surrounding figures such as Terry Schiavo. In Deconstructing Dignity, Scott Cutler Shershow offers a powerful new way of thinking about it philosophically. Focusing on the concepts of human dignity and the sanctity of life, he employs Derridean deconstruction to uncover self-contradictory and damaging assumptions that underlie both sides of the debate.
Shershow examines texts from Cicero’s De Officiis to Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals to court decisions and religious declarations. Through them he reveals how arguments both supporting and denying the right to die undermine their own unconditional concepts of human dignity and the sanctity of life with a hidden conditional logic, one often tied to practical economic concerns and the scarcity or unequal distribution of medical resources. He goes on to examine the exceptional case of self-sacrifice, closing with a vision of a society—one whose conditions we are far from meeting—in which the debate can finally be resolved. A sophisticated analysis of a heated topic, Deconstructing Dignity is also a masterful example of deconstructionist methods at work.
Dignity plays a central role in current thinking about law and human rights, but there is sharp disagreement about its meaning. Combining conceptual precision with a broad historical background, Michael Rosen puts these controversies in context and offers a novel, constructive proposal.
“Penetrating and sprightly…Rosen rightly emphasizes the centrality of Catholicism in the modern history of human dignity. His command of the history is impressive…Rosen is a wonderful guide to the recent German constitutional thinking about human dignity…[Rosen] is in general an urbane and witty companion, achieving his aim of accessibly written philosophy.”
—Samuel Moyn, The Nation
“[An] elegant, interesting and lucid exploration of the concept of dignity...Drawing on classical, liberal and Catholic traditions, Rosen hopes to rehabilitate dignity to its rightful place near the centre of moral thought...Rosen's admirable book deserves wide attention from political theorists, jurisprudes and political philosophers.”
—Simon Blackburn, Times Higher Education
“Dignity deserves to be widely read, not only for its intrinsic interest, but also as a corrective to the habit of discussing such topics in abstraction from their social context. Whether or not one agrees with Rosen's arguments, there can be no doubt he has widened our horizons.”
—Rae Langton, Times Literary Supplement
Dignity brings together the stories of ten lower income American women whose backgrounds vary, but who share a struggle for survival and a quest for dignity in the face of hardship. Young or old, urban or rural, welfare recipient or union activist, each relates her life story with rich detail, poignant humor, and remarkable courage.
Why should the law care about enforcing contracts? We tend to think of a contract as the legal embodiment of a moral obligation to keep a promise. When two parties enter into a transaction, they are obligated as moral beings to play out the transaction in the way that both parties expect. But this overlooks a broader understanding of the moral possibilities of the market. Just as Shakespeare’s Shylock can stand on his contract with Antonio not because Antonio is bound by honor but because the enforcement of contracts is seen as important to maintaining a kind of social arrangement, today’s contracts serve a fundamental role in the functioning of society.
With The Dignity of Commerce, Nathan B. Oman argues persuasively that well-functioning markets are morally desirable in and of themselves and thus a fit object of protection through contract law. Markets, Oman shows, are about more than simple economic efficiency. To do business with others, we must demonstrate understanding of and satisfy their needs. This ability to see the world from another’s point of view inculcates key virtues that support a liberal society. Markets also provide a context in which people can peacefully cooperate in the absence of political, religious, or ideological agreement. Finally, the material prosperity generated by commerce has an ameliorative effect on a host of social ills, from racial discrimination to environmental destruction.
The first book to place the moral status of the market at the center of the justification for contract law, The Dignity of Commerce is sure to elicit serious discussion about this central area of legal studies.
The Dignity of Working Men
Michèle Lamont Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress HD8072.5.L36 2000 | Dewey Decimal 305.562
Michèle Lamont takes us into the world inhabited by working-class men--the world as they understand it. Interviewing black and white working-class men who, because they are not college graduates, have limited access to high-paying jobs and other social benefits, she constructs a revealing portrait of how they see themselves and the rest of society.
Morality is at the center of these workers' worlds. They find their identity and self-worth in their ability to discipline themselves and conduct responsible but caring lives. These moral standards function as an alternative to economic definitions of success, offering them a way to maintain dignity in an out-of-reach American dreamland. But these standards also enable them to draw class boundaries toward the poor and, to a lesser extent, the upper half. Workers also draw rigid racial boundaries, with white workers placing emphasis on the "disciplined self" and blacks on the "caring self." Whites thereby often construe blacks as morally inferior because they are lazy, while blacks depict whites as domineering, uncaring, and overly disciplined.
This book also opens up a wider perspective by examining American workers in comparison with French workers, who take the poor as "part of us" and are far less critical of blacks than they are of upper-middle-class people and immigrants. By singling out different "moral offenders" in the two societies, workers reveal contrasting definitions of "cultural membership" that help us understand and challenge the forms of inequality found in both societies.
Human dignity insists that every human deserves respect and a safe place to live. For many, this is not a reality. The essays collected here analyze the background of this problem in contemporary family life and society at large, with special emphasis on the role of women and on the Bible as a source of inspiration and transformation. The collection is the product of a six-year conversation on family, violence, and human dignity between the Protestant Theological University in Kampen, The Netherlands, and the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, a North-South dialogue that included annual conferences, a series of responsive letters, and additional external responses. The contributors are Cheryl B. Anderson, Hendrik Bosman, Gerrit Brand, Athalya Brenner, L. Juliana Claassens, Dorothea Erbele-Küster, Leo J. Koffeman, Frits de Lange, Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon, Magda Misset-van de Weg, Beverly Eileen Mitchell, Anne-Claire Mulder, Ian Nell, Mary-Anne Plaatjies-van Huffel, Jeremy Punt, Petruschka Schaafsma, D. Xolile Simon, Lee-Ann J. Simon, Gé Speelman, Klaas Spronk, Ciska Stark, Elsa Tamez, Charlene van der Walt, Robert Vosloo, and Yusef Waghid.
From Human Dignity to Natural Law shows how the whole of the natural law, as understood in the Aristotelian Thomistic tradition, is contained implicitly in human dignity. Human dignity means existing for one’s own good (the common good as well as one’s individual good), and not as a mere means to an alien good. But what is the true human good? This question is answered with a careful analysis of Aristotle’s definition of happiness. The natural law can then be understood as the precepts that guide us in achieving happiness.
To show that human dignity is a reality in the nature of things and not a mere human invention, it is necessary to show that human beings exist by nature for the achievement of the properly human good in which happiness is found. This implies finality in nature. Since contemporary natural science does not recognize final causality, the book explains why living things, as least, must exist for a purpose and why the scientific method, as currently understood, is not able to deal with this question. These reflections will also enable us to respond to a common criticism of natural law theory: that it attempts to derive statements of what ought to be from statements about what is.
After defining the natural law and relating it to human or positive law, Richard Berquist considers Aquinas’s formulation of the first principle of the natural law. It then discusses the love commandments to love God above all things and to love one’s neighbor as oneself as the first precepts of the natural law. Subsequent chapters are devoted to clarifying and defending natural law precepts concerned with the life issues, with sexual morality and marriage, and with fundamental natural rights. From Human Dignity to Natural Law concludes with a discussion of alternatives to the natural law.
After nearly fifty years of rigid segregation, the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa and the African National Congress’s relatively peaceful assumption of power in 1994 were hailed as a miracle. But a few years into the transition, this miracle appeared increasingly threatened by crime and violence. In this compelling ethnography, Steffen Jensen focuses on a single township in Cape Town in order to explore how residents have negotiated the intersecting forces of political change and violent crime.
Jensen spent years closely observing the actions of residents both male and female, young and old, as well as gang members, police officers, and local government officials. The poisonous legacy of apartheid also comes under Jensen’s lens, as he examines the lasting effects that an official policy of racist stereotyping has had on the residents’ conceptions of themselves and their neighbors. While Gangs, Politics, and Dignity in Cape Town brims with insights into ongoing debates over policing, gangs, and local politics, Jensen also shows how people in the townships maintain their dignity in the face of hardship and danger.
George Kateb Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress JC571.K343 2011 | Dewey Decimal 323
Kateb asserts that the defense of universal human rights requires two indispensable components: morality (as promoted or enforced by justice) and human dignity. For Kateb, morality and justice have sound theoretical underpinnings; human dignity, by virtue of its “existential” quality, lacks (but merits) its own theoretical framework. This he proceeds to establish with a critique of the writings of canonical Western political philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseu, Mill, Emerson, Thoreau) and contemporary thinkers like Peter Singer and Thomas Nagel. The author argues that while morality compels just governments to prevent, reduce, or eliminate human suffering inasmuch as it is possible, people possess and are entitled to dignity by mere virtue of their “status” as human beings. Homo sapiens, he maintains, have a “stature,” manifest in the species's “great achievements,” that exceeds that of other creatures, even in (or especially in) the secular cosmos.
What does human dignity mean and what role should it play in guiding the mission of international institutions? In recent decades, global institutions have proliferated—from intergovernmental organizations to hybrid partnerships. The specific missions of these institutions are varied, but is there a common animating principle to inform their goals? Presented as an integrated, thematic analysis that transcends individual contributions, Human Dignity and the Future of Global Institutions argues that the concept of human dignity can serve as this principle.
Human dignity consists of the agency of individuals to apply their gifts to thrive, and requires social recognition of each person's inherent value and claim to equal access to opportunity. Contributors examine how traditional and emerging institutions are already advancing human dignity, and then identify strategies to make human dignity more central to the work of global institutions. They explore traditional state-created entities, as well as emergent, hybrid institutions and faith-based organizations. Concluding with a final section that lays out a path for a cross-cultural dialogue on human dignity, the book offers a framework to successfully achieve the transformation of global politics into service of the individual.
Humanity without Dignity
Andrea Sangiovanni Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress HM821.S17 2017 | Dewey Decimal 305
Why are all persons due equal respect? Andrea Sangiovanni rejects the view that human dignity is grounded in our capacities for reason, love, etc. Rather than focus on the basis for equality, we should focus on inequality: Why and when is it wrong to treat others as inferior? Moral equality, he writes, is best explained by a rejection of cruelty.
Thomas Albert Howard Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BT701.3.I45 2013 | Dewey Decimal 233.5
Imago Dei will serve as an indispensable resource for those wishing to deepen their grasp of the theological bases for Christian views of human dignity, as well as for those who believe that Christ's words "that they be one" (John 17:21) remain a theological imperative today
Pico della Mirandola, one of the most remarkable thinkers of the Renaissance, has become known as a founder of humanism and a supporter of secular rationality. Brian Copenhaver upends this understanding of Pico, unearthing the magic and mysticism in the most famous work attributed to him, The Oration on the Dignity of Man.
Differences between human beings have long been used to justify a range of degrading, exclusionary, and murderous practices that strip people of their humanity and dignity. While considerable scholarship has been devoted to such dehumanization, Matthew S. Weinert asks how we might conceive its reverse—humanization, or what it means to “make human.”
Weinert proposes an account of making human centered on five mechanisms: reflection, recognition, resistance, replication of dominant mores, and responsibility. Examining cases such as the UN Security Council’s engagements with crises and the International Court of Justice’s grappling with Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, he illustrates the distinct and contingent ways these mechanisms have been deployed. Theoretically, the cases evince a complex, evolving relationship between state-centric and human-centric views of society, ultimately revealing the normative potentialities of both.
Though the case studies concern specific human relations issues on an international level, Weinert argues in favor of starting from the shared problem of being human and of living in a world in which the humanity of countless groups has been demeaned or denied. Working outward from that point, he proposes, we obtain a more pragmatically grounded understanding of the social construction of the human being.
“Lawler proves himself again one of liberal democracy’s most perceptive friendly critics. . . . Lawler ranges widely—drawing on Socrates, Tocqueville, Solzhenitsyn, and Benedict XVI, among others—to explore the disturbing challenge modern liberalism poses to human dignity.” —First Things
“Written with grace, wit, and irrepressible self-assurance, [Modern and American Dignity] explores the moral, philosophical, and religious sources of human dignity. . . . Lawler argues that human rights and choices must rest on human dignity, and that dignity requires ontology—a concept of a person as a whole being—at odds with both neo-Darwinian sociobiology and Enlightenment individualism. . . . Recommended.” —Choice
“Lawler’s study excels at introducing critical themes in the discussion of what it means to be human . . . One of the most intellectually stimulating studies I’ve read in a long time. . . . Lawler is brilliant in his analysis. . . . The separate points of each chapter rise to the level of seminal insights. And in the end, like all profitable lines of thought once properly balanced, they form a very satisfying whole: They converge.” — Dr. Jeff Mirus, CatholicCulture.org
“As go the souls of individual Americans will go the future of our country. . . . Peter Lawler’s book should be studied so that we too can be open to the truth about ourselves and our country.” —University Bookman
“A lively and illuminating book . . . Lawler’s wide learning is never merely academic, but always at the service of understanding the human soul, and the political predicament of late modern man. . . . This is a book that allows us to think realistically about personal virtue.” —Journal of Markets and Morality
“Puts Mr. Lawler firmly in the rank of generally Christian and usually progressive-conservative thinkers identified by Russell Kirk as contributing to the uniquely Anglospheric form of the Conservative Mind. He is a real joy to read. . . . Grade: A+.” —BrothersJudd.com
Winner of “Author of the Year Award for Essay” from the Georgia Writers Association
An Indispensable Guide to Our Most Pressing Moral and Political Debates
The horrors of the twentieth century exposed the insufficiency of speaking of human rights. In intending to extinguish whole classes of human beings, the Nazis and Communists did something much worse than violating rights; they aimed to reduce us all to less than who we really are. As political philosopher Peter Augustine Lawler shows in this illuminating book, rights are insecure without some deeper notion of human dignity.
The threats to human dignity remain potent today—all the more so for being less obvious. Our anxious and aging society has embraced advances in science, technology, and especially biotechnology—from abortion and embryonic stem-cell research to psychopharmacology, cosmetic surgery and neurology, genetic manipulation, and the detachment of sex from reproduction. But such technical advances can come at the expense of our natural and creaturely dignity, of what we display when we know who we are and what we’re supposed to do. Our lives will only become more miserably confused if we cannot speak confidently about human dignity.
In Modern and American Dignity, Lawler, who served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics, reveals the intellectual and cultural trends that threaten our confidence in human dignity. The “modern” view of dignity, as he calls it, denies what’s good about who we are by nature, understanding human dignity to mean moral autonomy (freedom from nature) or productivity (asserting our mastery over nature by devising ingenious transformations). This new understanding of dignity stands at odds with the “American” view, which depends on the self-evidence of the truth that we are all created equally unique and irreplaceable. The American view, which is indebted to classical, Christian, and modern sources, understands that free persons are more than merely autonomous or productive beings—or, for that matter, clever chimps. It sees what’s good in our personal freedom and our technical mastery over nature, but only in balance with the rest of what makes us whole persons—our dignified performance of our “relational” duties as familial, political, and religious beings.
Modern and American Dignity explores these topics with wit and elegance. To make sense of contemporary political and moral debates, Lawler draws on a wide range of thinkers—from Socrates to Solzhenitsyn, from Tocqueville to Chesterton, from John Courtney Murray to our philosopher-pope Benedict XVI. In revealing the full dimensions of these debates, he exposes the emptiness of glib pronouncements—such as President Obama’s—that our bioethical conflicts can be resolved by a consensus of scientific experts. As the experience of the Bush Bioethics Council demonstrated, there is no scientific consensus about who a human being is.
Lawler has provided an indispensable guide to today’s complex political, bioethical, and cultural debates.
There are few issues more divisive than what has become known as “the right to die.” One camp upholds “death with dignity,” regarding the terminally ill as autonomous beings capable of forming their own judgment on the timing and process of dying. The other camp advocates “sanctity of life,” regarding life as intrinsically valuable, and that should be sustained as long as possible. Is there a right answer?
Raphael Cohen-Almagor takes a balanced approach in analyzing this emotionally charged debate, viewing the dispute from public policy and international perspectives. He offers an interdisciplinary, compelling study in medicine, law, religion, and ethics. It is a comprehensive look at the troubling question of whether physician-assisted suicide should be allowed. Cohen-Almagor delineates a distinction between active and passive euthanasia and discusses legal measures that have been invoked in the United States and abroad. He outlines reasons non-blood relatives should be given a role in deciding a patient’s last wishes. As he examines euthanasia policies in the Netherlands and the 1994 Oregon Death with Dignity Act, the author suggests amendments and finally makes a circumscribed plea for voluntary physician-assisted suicide.
In this unflinching look at the experience of suffering and one of its greatest manifestations—torture—J. M. Bernstein critiques the repressions of traditional moral theory, showing that our morals are not immutable ideals but fragile constructions that depend on our experience of suffering itself. Morals, Bernstein argues, not only guide our conduct but also express the depth of mutual dependence that we share as vulnerable and injurable individuals.
Beginning with the attempts to abolish torture in the eighteenth century, and then sensitively examining what is suffered in torture and related transgressions, such as rape, Bernstein elaborates a powerful new conception of moral injury. Crucially, he shows, moral injury always involves an injury to the status of an individual as a person—it is a violent assault against his or her dignity. Elaborating on this critical element of moral injury, he demonstrates that the mutual recognitions of trust form the invisible substance of our moral lives, that dignity is a fragile social possession, and that the perspective of ourselves as potential victims is an ineliminable feature of everyday moral experience.