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Biological & Biomedical Sciences
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Human Dignity as an Ontological and Social Construct (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

The student will use the knowledge learned in the readings to argue if human dignity can be defended from its ontological fundamentals or if it could be understood as a social construct and thus particular and questioned.
post a two argument answer providing an example in the field of bioethics to your thoughts.

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Human Dignity as an Ontological and Social Construct
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Can human dignity be defended from its ontological fundamentals, or could it be understood as a social construct and thus, particular and questioned?
There are two leading conceptions of human dignity. The first one, known as democratic conception (Song, 2015), views human dignity ontologically, grounding it on human nature as an individual rational substance. This view holds that dignity belongs to all humans because all human beings exist as individual rational entities (Seifert, 1997). Dignity is thus absolute and independent of any specific quality, character, or behavior. It is assured in all human beings equally by the mere virtue of existing, meaning dignity cannot be damaged or disowned. The second one, known as meritocratic conception (Song, 2015), views dignity as a term of distinction dependent on merits, honors, and status. This view holds that dignity differs from person to person. One can acquire or lose dignity contingent on how they conduct themselves in society (Addis, 2013).
The idea that dignity is merely a term that captures the concept of human autonomy is underwhelming. Non-autonomous individuals and things can also have dignity. One might argue that a fetus, an embryo, a dead body, or even a human organ deserve to be treated in a certain way without assigning autonomy to them. In this sense, one would argue that there is some form of meaningful dignity that is not contingent on autonomy. In this sense, one would argue that dignity reflects a moral status/social construct conferred to human beings by other human beings. Specifically, autonomous moral agents decide, despite lost autonomy, one cannot eat the dead, sell body parts of the deceased, or even experiment on people in a persistent vegetative state or are post-coma unresponsive.
Thus, one would argue that dignity is a social and moral construct. It refers to the status placed on others by moral agents—both autonomo

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Other Topics:

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    Description: There are two leading conceptions of human dignity. The first one, known as democratic conception (Song, 2015), views human dignity ontologically, grounding it on human nature as an individual rational substance. This view holds that dignity belongs to all humans because all human beings exist as individual...
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