On the Appeal for the Recognition of Human Dignity in Law and Morality

  • Martin Honecker
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 52)


In his paper on “The Sanctity of Human Life: Secular Moral Authority, Biomedicine, and the Role of the State” [11], 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.


Human Dignity Common Morality Moral Language Legal Enforcement Legal Moralism 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Honecker
    • 1
  1. 1.Evangelish-theologisches SeminarUniversity of BonnGermany

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