Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics

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Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics develops a holistic and relevant understanding of human dignity for ethics today. Whilst critics of the concept of human dignity call for its dismissal, and many of its defenders rehearse the same old arguments, this book offers an alternative set of methodological assumptions on which to base a revitalized and practical understanding of human dignity, which at the same time overcomes the challenges that the concept currently faces. The Component Dimensions of Human Dignity model enables human dignity to serve both as a descriptive category that explains moral choices, and as a normative criterion that helps to evaluate moral behaviour. A consideration of two cases―violent crime and physician-assisted suicide―demonstrates how the model offers a way to avoid the pitfalls of both moralism and moral relativism, while still leaving space for relativity in ethics. By using an approach that should be acceptable to both religious and secular perspectives alike, this book offers a unique way out of the ‘dignity talk’ that currently plagues ethics.

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FOREWORD

Human dignity is a key concept in both secular and theological ethics. But, all too often, its meaning is taken for granted. Hence the necessity of a critical reflection on its meaning and status.
In this most insightful book, David Kirchhoffer asks how is it possible to use human dignity as a normative criterion, when one knows, from empirical research, that there is no such thing as the 'fact' of an inherent and inviolable dignity of the human person, and when one also knows that references to dignity are often an ideological disguise of a much less beautiful reality? This question could have resulted in a unilateral hermeneutics of suspicion. Yet, despite his critical a priori, the author succeeds in avoiding such an ideological pitfall by way of criticizing the methodological assumptions that underpin recent calls for the dismissal of the concept of dignity. This leads to an alternative and positive approach, in which the author proposes a multidimensional understanding of human dignity.
Balancing between deconstruction and reconstruction, Kirchhoffer offers an original and gripping reassessment of the concept of human dignity as a non-univocal and multi-dimensional concept that cannot be reduced to any single characteristic of humanness such as autonomy, moral goodness or biological life. Moreover, he distinguishes important fields of meaning: on the one hand, the tension between realised and not yet realised dignity (the tension between the already and not yet) and, on the other hand, four component dimensions of dignity--existential, cognitive-affective, behavioural and social.
In a chapter that can be considered a masterpiece of fundamental ethical reasoning, Kirchhoffer addresses the necessary tension between the descriptive and the normative aspects of human dignity in light of two cases taken from the work of James Gilligan and Ronald Dworkin. This is followed by a chapter in which the four component dimensions of human dignity serve as a framework for reassessing the meaning of "being created in the image of God." The book ends with a concise concluding chapter in which Kirchhoffer revisits the main criticisms levelled at the problematic contemporary use of the concept of human dignity, a reflection in which he introduces nuances leading to the conclusion that it remains meaningful to refer to human dignity.
This book is written with a great sense of nuance and the reasoning is averse to oversimplification and univocity, always taking into account the tension and paradoxes inherent in the concept of human dignity. The whole is extraordinarily consistent, insightful and lucid.
This work offers a way out of the impasse created by the hermeneutics of suspicion vis-à-vis human dignity. Conscious of the uncritical use of the concept, Kirchhoffer succeeds in articulating the possibilities of again giving meaning to human dignity beyond the suspicion. With this book, he urges moral theologians and moral philosophers alike to make a more nuanced use of the concept of human dignity and in so doing has enriched, up-dated and made more precise the framework of interpretation proposed by Louis Janssens. He has, thus, shown himself to be both an eminent representative and critic of the Louvain personalist school.
Johan Verstraeten
Leuven, 22 June 2012

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"David Kirchhoffer's work offers a significant step forward in the debates concerning the meaning and application of dignity. Kirchhoffer lays out a clearly defined ethical method that enables him to process the complex issues that the theme raises. The argument engages a range of thinkers including Ronald Dworkin and Pope Benedict XVI and thus should appeal to a very wide readership. The discussion is stringently academic, but clearly inspired by concrete experiences of the violation of dignity." -- Brian V. Johnstone CSsR

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Book Description Teneo Press, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics develops a holistic and relevant understanding of human dignity for ethics today. Whilst critics of the concept of human dignity call for its dismissal, and many of its defenders rehearse the same old arguments, this book offers an alternative set of methodological assumptions on which to base a revitalized and practical understanding of human dignity, which at the same time overcomes the challenges that the concept currently faces. The Component Dimensions of Human Dignity model enables human dignity to serve both as a descriptive category that explains moral choices, and as a normative criterion that helps to evaluate moral behaviour. A consideration of two cases--violent crime and physician-assisted suicide--demonstrates how the model offers a way to avoid the pitfalls of both moralism and moral relativism, while still leaving space for relativity in ethics. By using an approach that should be acceptable to both religious and secular perspectives alike, this book offers a unique way out of the 'dignity talk' that currently plagues ethics. Seller Inventory # AAV9781934844960

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Book Description Teneo Press. Paperback. Condition: New. 382 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.0in. x 1.0in.Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics develops a holistic and relevant understanding of human dignity for ethics today. Whilst critics of the concept of human dignity call for its dismissal, and many of its defenders rehearse the same old arguments, this book offers an alternative set of methodological assumptions on which to base a revitalized and practical understanding of human dignity, which at the same time overcomes the challenges that the concept currently faces. The Component Dimensions of Human Dignity model enables human dignity to serve both as a descriptive category that explains moral choices, and as a normative criterion that helps to evaluate moral behaviour. A consideration of two casesviolent crime and physician-assisted suicidedemonstrates how the model offers a way to avoid the pitfalls of both moralism and moral relativism, while still leaving space for relativity in ethics. By using an approach that should be acceptable to both religious and secular perspectives alike, this book offers a unique way out of the dignity talk that currently plagues ethics. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9781934844960

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