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Dignity is often denounced as hopelessly amorphous or incurably theological: as feel-good philosophical window-dressing, or as the name given to whatever principles give you the answer that you think is right.
This is wrong, says Charles Foster: dignity is not only an essential principle in bioethics and law; it is really the only principle.
In this ambitious, paradigm-shattering but highly readable book, he argues that dignity is the only sustainable Theory of Everything in bioethics. For most problems in contemporary bioethics, existing principles such as autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice and professional probity can do a reasonably workmanlike job if they are all allowed to contribute appropriately. But these are second order principles, each of which traces its origins back to dignity. And when one gets to the frontiers of bioethics (such as human enhancement), dignity is the only conceivable language with which to describe and analyse the strange conceptual creatures found there.
Drawing on clinical, anthropological, philosophical and legal insights, Foster provides a new lexicon and grammar of that language which will be essential reading for anyone wanting to travel in the outlandish territories of bioethics, and strongly recommended for anyone wanting to travel comfortably anywhere in bioethics or medical law.