Edited by Robert P. Kraynak and Glenn Tinder
Robert Kraynak and Glenn Tinder contend that the major challenge of our time is to recover a true and authentic understanding of human dignity and to defend it against threats from modern civilization. In Defense of Human Dignity wrestles with the dilemma that contemporary society has developed a heightened sensitivity to the demands of human dignity while creating radically new dangers to humanity in the form of the totalitarian state, modern technology, genetic engineering, the practical ethics movement, and radical environmentalism.
Representing diverse viewpoints, the authors of this volume explore what is meant by “human dignity” and related notions, such as the “sanctity of life.” The authors not only defend human dignity – drawing upon principles from Kantian ethics, theories of human rights, the Bible, and Christian theology – they also examine the limitations and problems of misguided conceptions of human dignity.
The inspiration for this volume is the publication twenty years ago of the Covey Lectures by Glenn Tinder under the title Against Fate, in which Tinder argued that the sanctity of every individual is the central moral intuition of the Western tradition. Using Tinder’s essay as a starting point, the contributors develop his themes in different directions, producing a stunning collection of essays that focus on the philosophical and religious basis of human dignity while showing the variety of ways it can be understood and defended today.
“Despite its title, this book is more about the various meanings and implications of human dignity than its defense. The contributors agree that the idea of human dignity has widespread if not unanimous support today, even if it is all too frequently violated in practice. However, they identify many different concepts of human dignity throughout history and at present and they differ among themselves as to which concept is preferable.” — The Heythrop Journal
“. . . fine essays. . . . This encouraging volume reminds me that there are historically proven questions and age-old arguments about human nature that we still ought to consider within and outside of the academy.” — Rhetoric & Public Affairs
“. . . those committed to liberalism need to defend it against its despisers. . . . In Defense of Human Dignity is an important book that recognizes this challenge. I recommend it for scholars and citizens who are concerned about liberalism’s future.” — Markets & Morality