On the Appeal for the Recognition of Human Dignity in Law and Morality
In his paper on “The Sanctity of Human Life: Secular Moral Authority, Biomedicine, and the Role of the State” , Kevin Wm. Wildes operates on the assumption of moral pluralism as a given fact. Pluralism results from differing interpretations of a particular matter: What, e.g., does “life” mean? Does it refer simply to biological existence or to something qualitative, personal, spiritual, fulfilled? In what sense life should be considered sacred and inviolable depends upon how it is understood. Furthermore, Wildes points to the fuzziness of such terms as “human dignity” and “sanctity of life”. He refers to a “fragmentation of moral language” and especially sees the loss of a uniform moral language as one of the essential causes of pluralism. “The particularity of moral language” raises the question, whether rationally based common morality exists at all. Unlike medieval natural law, whose fundamental principles were accessible to reason, and unlike the Enlightenment, for which reason was the measure, Wildes sees moral arguments and standpoints as being employed in a pluralistic fashion and as therefore being relative.
KeywordsHuman Dignity Common Morality Moral Language Legal Enforcement Legal Moralism
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Bloch, E.: 1961, Naturrecht und menschliche Würde, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/Main.Google Scholar
- 2.Cicero: 1975,De officiis, ed. G. P. Goold, transi. W. Miller, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press and William Heinemann, Cambridge (MA) and London, I, 105–106, p. 91.Google Scholar
- 3.Devlin, P.: 1965, The Enforcement of Morals, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
- 4.Hart, H.L.A.: 1963, Law, Liberty and Morality, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
- 5.Hoerster, N.: 1970, ‘Strafwürdigkeit und Moral in der Angelsächsischen Rechtsphilosophie’, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Strafrechtswissenschaft 20, pp. 538–570.Google Scholar
- 6.Horstmann, R.P.: 1980, ‘Menschenwürde’, in J. Ritter et al. (eds.), Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, vol. 5, pp. 1124–1127.Google Scholar
- 7.Huber, W.: 1992, ‘Menschenrechte/Menschenwürde’, Theologische Realenzyklopädie 22, pp. 577–602.Google Scholar
- 8.Kant, I.: 1911, Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, Academy-Edition, vol. 4, Reimer, Berlin, pp. 385–463.Google Scholar
- 9.Mitchell, B.: 1970, Law, Morality and Religion in a Secular Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
- 10.Otte, G.: 1981, ‘Recht und Moral’, Christlicher Glaube und moderne Gesellschaft, vol. 12, pp. 7–36.Google Scholar
- 11.Wildes, K.W., S.J.: 1996, ‘The sanctity of human life: secular moral authority, biomedicine, and the role of the state’, this volume, pp. 241–256.Google Scholar