Questions about the dignity of the human person give rise to many of the most central and hotly disputed topics in bioethics. In A Defense of Dignity: Creating Life, Destroying Life, and Protecting the Rights of Conscience, Christopher Kaczor investigates whether each human being has intrinsic dignity and whether the very concept of “dignity” has a useful place in contemporary ethical debates. Kaczor explores a broad range of issues addressed in contemporary bioethics, including whether there is a duty of “procreative beneficence,” the ethics of ectopic pregnancy, and the possibility of “rescuing” human embryos with human wombs or artificial wombs. A Defense of Dignity also treats issues relevant to the end of life, including physician-assisted suicide, provision of food and water to patients in a persistent vegetative state, and how to proceed with organ donation following death. Finally, what are the duties and prerogatives of health care professionals who refuse in conscience to take part in activities that they regard as degrading to human dignity? Should they be forced to do what they consider to be violations of the patient’s well being, or does patient autonomy always trump the conscience of a health care professional?
Grounded in the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, A Defense of Dignity argues that all human beings from the beginning to the end of their lives should be treated with respect and considers how this belief should be applied in controversial cases.
“A Defense of Dignity provides a skillful, informed, and clear philosophical analysis, from a natural law perspective, of a range of controversial, and sometimes complex, bioethical questions concerning the beginning and end of life. Few authors approach bioethics from a natural law perspective, and few do it as well as Christopher Kaczor. The book should be of interest not only to natural law philosophers and their students, but also to anyone interested in bioethics." — John Keown, Georgetown University
“Moral questions at the beginning and ending of life and controversies over liberty of conscience are among the most vexing and important issues of our day. Christopher Kaczor brings his characteristic moral seriousness and philosophical good sense to his treatment of these issues, all of which implicate the key concept of human dignity. This eminently readable collection will provide an invaluable resource for educators and students alike.” — Christopher Tollefsen, University of South Carolina
“Indispensable. Kaczor untangles the various meanings of human dignity to undertake a reexamination of the most serious and difficult issues in medical ethics. The book combines clarity with philosophical precision, faithfulness to Catholic teaching with a thorough engagement with critics." — J. Budziszewski, University of Texas at Austin
“Although Kaczor’s Roman Catholic perspective on bioethical issues is undisguised, he writes in a nondogmatic style that acknowledges ambiguities and unresolved dilemmas. Thus, the book invites readers to critically examine important issues, whether or not he/she agrees with Kaczor’s philosophical analysis.” — Choice
“Kaczor introduces the main viewpoints put forth by ethicists who contradict the Catholic stance on various bioethical issues . . . [and] does not avoid showing the complicated dimensions to many of the major issues here.” — Catholic Missourian
“This collection of essays showcases Kaczor’s careful and precise approach to key moral problems surrounding reproduction, death and dying, and the protection of conscience in health care. . . . The text would be quite suitable for an advanced undergraduate or beginning graduate class seeking a serious, careful consideration of Catholic teaching on abortion and euthanasia, including the most contested difficult cases of today. The chapters are invariably tightly argued, clearly written, and their topics fully explained.” — Theological Studies
“…Blessed John Paul regularly invoked dignity as a moral compass. Christopher Kaczor . . . does a masterful job in showing how important is this concept, properly understood, to contemporary bioethics. . . . Kaczor argues as a philosopher in the light of reason, not revelation.” — National Catholic Register
“Kaczor has created a definitive volume that is both fair and balanced, and well-grounded within the Catholic Magisterium. . . . Christopher Kaczor has written a marvelous defense of human dignity. His latest work is extremely well-written, and is highly recommended for advanced students, and institutions with collections dedicated to ethics, moral theology, and philosophy.” — Catholic Library World
“This volume is a collection of previously written essays by the author, and the basic premise is the intrinsic dignity of every human being and their subsequent protection. There is extensive discussion of what dignity is, and why the concept of universal inherent dignity is an extremely important ethical principle . . . . It is well written and well researched.” — Religious Studies Review
“A Defense of Dignity, brings together previously published essays on a range of issues in medical ethics . . . . Kaczor focuses principally on particular issues in bioethics in which human beings are vulnerable. He discusses procreative beneficence, embryo adoption, ectopic pregnancy, fetal surgery, physician-assisted suicide, patients in a persistent vegetative state, and organ donation. Kaczor’s argument on behalf of human dignity—forwarded in the introductory chapter and then elaborated through his interventions on these particular controversial medical issues—provides a strong example of a common claim that human worth is intrinsic.” — Studies in Christian Ethics
“Christopher Kaczor’s A Defense of Dignity explores the most challenging issues in contemporary bioethics and public policy… thinkers like Kaczor offer convincing arguments to maintain Christian ideas, morality, and culture for all nations.” — Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies
Winner of 2014 Second -place Award, Faith and Science Category, Catholic Press Association