(Hasty posting does not a good blogger make.  Post updated to clear up an idiotic confusion.

In this month’s issue of The New Republic, Steven Pinker critiques Leon Kass and the concept of ‘human dignity’ as a basis to bioethics. While the article lacks the footnotes that would give it the additional credibility it needs to offset Pinker’s invective against his opponents, it is still an interesting challenge to the idea that ‘human dignity’ should function as a limiter in bioethics.

My question: is it possible that Pinker’s empirically-oriented mindset prohibits him from understanding Kass’ style of argumentation?

Read the whole thing, then discuss.  I’m curious to hear our brilliant readers’ opinions on this one.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

One Comment

  1. From what I understand of Pinker’s argument, he’s saying that autonomy subsumes dignity as grounds for justifying or limiting scientific practice. Violations of dignity, wherein they are actual harms, are always violations of autonomy. It’s an interesting argument.

    Whether he gives Kass a fair reading I can’t say–I haven’t read the 500-page report. What gives you reason to think that Pinker doesn’t?


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