Human Dignity and Equality of Treatment

John H. Evans

in Contested Reproduction

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780226222653
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226222707 | DOI:
Human Dignity and Equality of Treatment

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The term human dignity has been used extensively in bioethical debates about reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs). Secular bioethics in the United States studiously avoid the term human dignity but embrace the more specific term of “autonomy”. Among religious bioethicists, one of the primary sources of the idea of human dignity is the Jewish and Christian traditions that attribute a supreme worth to humanity because humans have a special relationship with God. This discourse claims that it is wrong to pick and choose between any two particular people because of a characteristic, because all should be equal. The most socially expansive discourse about dignity and equality claims that one should treat entire groups equally, and RGTs threaten that social equality through creating genetically defined groups and creating yet another opportunity to treat those without money unequally.

Keywords: human dignity; secular bioethics; reproductive genetic technologies; social equality; humanity

Chapter.  9145 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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