Dignity in the biotechnological revolution
Miller, Jessica Rose
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Dignity is the concept most commonly associated with the biotechnological revolution, and almost always used by conservatives in ethics and politics to justify constraining research into novel biotechnologies like cloning, genetic enhancement and life extension. At the same time, dignity is often criticised as inadequate to play such a fundamental role in future-facing bioethics. This thesis is a work at the intersection of applied ethics and politics, and seeks to address two main questions: whether dignity is a useless, hopelessly vague concept, and whether dignity is an inherently political, specifically conservative concept. This problem will be addressed by analysing the concept of dignity as it is found in bioethics policy and in everyday life. Using this conceptual analysis, a structure will be identified that both liberal and conservatives have in common meaning that dignity is not hopelessly vague. Despite having analogous structures, the argument in this thesis shows that the liberal and conservative conceptions of dignity are intractable and both support different positions in many arguments. The implication of this is that dignity will not be useful in building a consensus around policies in future-facing bioethics.