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Hum Reprod Genet Ethics. 2011;17(1):53-65.

Believing in the dignity of human embryos.

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Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ, UK.


After showing that despite being inherently flawed the concept of dignity cannot be replaced without loss by ethical principles such as "respect for persons," it is argued that, if dignity be not understood as dignitas, but as bonitas, which emphasizes connectedness rather than excellence and to which the proper response is not respect, but awe, there is no reason not to ascribe it to the human embryo. The question whether or not human embryos have dignity can then be answered in the affirmative on the same pragmatist grounds that ultimately lead us to respect other human persons as possessors of dignity, that is, a special moral worth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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