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AN UNDIGNIFIED BIOETHICS: THERE IS NO METHOD IN THIS MADNESS

Authors

  • INMACULADA DE MELO-MARTÍN

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Medical Ethics, Weill Cornell Medical College
      Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Associate Professor, Division of Medical Ethics, Department of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College, 402 E. 67th St., New York, NY 10065. Tel: 646-962-8031, Email: imd2001@med.cornell.edu
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Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Associate Professor, Division of Medical Ethics, Department of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College, 402 E. 67th St., New York, NY 10065. Tel: 646-962-8031, Email: imd2001@med.cornell.edu

ABSTRACT

In a recent article, Alasdair Cochrane argues for the need to have an undignified bioethics. His is not, of course, a call to transform bioethics into an inelegant, pathetic discipline, or one failing to meet appropriate disciplinary standards. His is a call to simply eliminate the concept of human dignity from bioethical discourse. Here I argue that he fails to make his case. I first show that several of the flaws that Cochrane identifies are not flaws of the conceptions of dignity he discusses but rather flaws of his, often problematic, understanding of such conceptions. Second, I argue that Cochrane's case against the concept of human dignity goes too far. I thus show that were one to agree that these are indeed flaws that require that we discard our ethical concepts, then following Cochrane's recommendations would commit us not only to an undignified bioethics, i.e. a bioethics without dignity, but to a bioethics without much ethics at all.

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