Friday, December 9, 2005
Session 6: Discussion of Staff Working Paper on “Bioethics
and Human Dignity”
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: The next item on our agenda —
this technology is overwhelming. The ones I use you have to hold
your finger down. They're older.
The item on our agenda now is the consideration of a staff working
paper on the subject of dignity about which we've heard considerably
in the last few moments and we'll hear more.
Here there will be no presentation. The paper was prepared by
Dr. Adam Schulman with the participation of other members of the
staff. And so I think here we can start right in with questions
and/or comments about the paper, and I would entertain suggestions
of anyone who wants to begin to comment.
Anyone? Adam is not going to make — I asked him if he wished
to do so, and he preferred not to so you have more time on the paper,
on the substance of the paper itself.
However, if Adam wants to sit here and people may ask a question
about what a term means, I'd appreciate it very much.
Adam, I want to thank you on behalf of the Council for doing this
Dr. George, you look like you're about to ask a question.
Have I interpreted you correctly?
PROF. GEORGE: Thank you, Dr. Pellegrino.
I did want to begin by first thanking Adam for his work on the
paper, which is very stimulating and interesting.
I want to ask Adam whether it might be possible for us to say
that there is, in fact, a national commitment that we as a people
have made to a certain understanding of dignity or at least to a
limited range of possible understandings, that is, excluding some
others. And if, therefore, given our own role as an agency or body
of the United States government, while it's interesting to explore
other concepts of dignity, whether we can say with some confidence
that we should as a matter of public policy be working within the
Now, of course, the term doesn't appear in any of the founding
documents of the nation, but my question is: is it possible to
glean from the Constitution and particularly from the Declaration
of Independence a certain understanding of the dignity of the human
being, one that excludes not only some possible alternative ethical
understandings, but also some alternative understandings of dignity
coming from other traditions which could reasonably be judged as
just alien to the one to which we've committed ourselves?
This is not to suggest that even if this is true that there is
an understanding embodied in our own national commitments, that
that understanding requires no defense. I would be all for defending
it, for sure, but is one there? Can we make some progress toward
understanding what concept of dignity, if any, American policy should
be made on the basis of by trying deeply to understand what is already
embedded in our founding documents?
DR. SCHULMAN: My feeling on that subject is that if you
take the Declaration of Independence and its trio of rights, life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it's not impossible,
but it's difficult to get from that a rich enough conception
of the positive content of the good life to address the bioethical
controversies that are upon us now and are coming in the future.
It seems to me it's certainly true that it would be wrong
to treat Lockean rights as simply negative or devoid of positive
content, and there are, I think, successful efforts to find a conception
of human virtue or excellence that goes along with Locke's rights.
A teacher of mine at the University of Chicago, Nathan Tarcov,
wrote a book called Locke's Education for Liberty in
which he, I think, shows that the Lockean conception of rights leads
to a kind of notion of the sort of citizen that one would have to
be in order to exercise those rights.
But, again, it seems to me that I don't see how that goes
very far in the coming age of the power of science to modify human
nature. I'm not sure how far that would go toward spelling
out what aspects of our humanity are really essential and inviolable.
Maybe you have some ideas on that.
PROF. GEORGE: Well, I was wondering if in addition to
the invocation of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
which in the declaration are explicitly a nonexhaustive list. If
there is anything to be gleaned from the idea that human beings
are created and that they are created equal.
Is there anything that is implicit; is there an understanding
of human dignity that might be implicit in the concept of a creature
who is endowed by his creator with unalienable rights, and who is
So if we go beyond just the attention to the rights, to the sort
of deeper context in which that expressly nonexhaustive list is
set forth, whether we'd have a richer understanding.
DR. SCHULMAN: It seems possible. I guess I'd leave
that to you members of the Council to discuss.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Is it on this point, Paul?
DR.McHUGH: Yes, it is on this point.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Okay.
DR.McHUGH: If I can continue on that point because Robby
is speaking exactly in the same direction I am because if we are
created, and we are created equal, that truly makes — and
there is a creator who made us — not only do the rights and
duties and ultimate responsibilities come with that, but also a
kind of relationship amongst each other comes from that because
to some extent that is the definition of brotherhood or sisterhood,
that we come from a particular place.
It's that theme of brotherhood — you talk when you go to
the Biblical religion that the Judeo-Christian thing talks about
man being made in God's image, which you know I think that's
kind of interesting, and Augustine develops that, of course, in
his Trinity, but the thing that's more telling, it seems, for
Americans today is this brotherhood that we have, that we're
equal, but we have responsibilities to one another that comes from
being brothers, and even the responsibilities and duties we carry.
I was saying to several people yesterday there was this picture
of that statute outside of Boys Town: "he ain't heavy,
Father. He's my brother." And to some extent that's
a kind of thing that we in this society want to be able to say for
all of us. Yes, caring for the sick, caring for the child, caring
for everybody can be construed as heavy from outside, but the person
who is caring if they think of each other as brothers, he ain't
so heavy in that way.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you, Paul.
I have Hurlbut, Lawler, and Meilaender, in that order, and Dr.
DR. HURLBUT: Well, it seems to me that maybe your answer
to Robby contained a little bit of your answer in spite of the fact
that you didn't claim it.
The very notion that there might be some ways of living which
preserve freedom itself might have a meaning here. There might
be things that we could do to ourselves that would diminish our
scope of our freedom and, therefore, our capacities to operate for
Of course, freedom finally doesn't mean much unless it's
attached to some notion of the good. It can't just be floating.
So what I want to come back to somehow or another in this conversation
— I'm not quite sure how to do it — is what Leon
was saying at the end. Below the notion of dignity, there has to
be some notion of a natural good which we could mess up with our
biotechnology, and one dimension of that we might explore would
be the concept of freedom.
But it does strike me that dignity intrinsically carries a notion
of moral valuation in it because human beings have some open indeterminacy,
and therefore, we can't just speak of a human nature because
human nature is full of all sorts of stuff, some very bad stuff.
So we've got to have some reference to where we're getting
the notion of what is good, and just to add a little to it, I think
we need to add to the notion of the Biblical description maybe the
term "love." Maybe that's a little too vague, but
God according to the Christian tradition — and I think this
is very resonant with all Biblical tradition — is God is love.
Love seems to me to be the notion that carries the coherent wholeness
of the good, and therefore, it is intrinsically preserving both
the possibilities, the freedom and the use of the possibilities
in the positive and just one last piece of that.
We in this current world, you hear it around universities a lot,
this flippant claim that you can't derive an "ought"
from an "is," the so-called naturalistic fallacy associated
with G.E. Moore, but I think it goes back to Hume, right?
And yet it strikes me that if you don't derive your good somehow
from what is, it's hard to know where you would get it. Robby
is usually a big authority on this, right? You can tell us, Robby,
but it seems to me that there must be some kind of a coherent good
that both preserves freedom and allows the manifestation of that
which is unquestionably good for human beings, that they would go
hand in hand.
And that's a complicated thought.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Lawler, if you want to comment.
DR. LAWLER: I agree with Bill, but I'm not going to
talk about that. Among the great contributions of this paper is
the criticism of Kant, which is radical and correct. Adam says
on page 8, "In locating human dignity entirely in rational
autonomy, Kant was forced to deny any moral significance to other
aspects of our humanity, including our family life, out loves, our
loyalties, and other emotions, as well as our way of coming into
the world and all other merely biological facts about the human
And skipping a sentence, "if the rational will alone is the
seat of human dignity, why should it matter if we are born of cloned
embryos or if we enhance our muscles or control our moods with drugs
or if we sell our organs on the open market?"
And Footnote 11, "one will not, for example, find much hint
of human dignity in Kant's definition of marriage as the association
of two persons of different sex" — that's the only
controversial part nowadays — "two persons of different
sex for the lifelong reciprocal possession of their sexual faculties."
So if dignity has something to do with family, loyalty and love,
Kant provides no guidance whatsoever, zero, because for Kant the
idea, as Bill pointed out, of human nature is an oxymoron insofar
as we're natural. We're not human.
So the big question is in what respect does the Declaration of
Independence and our founders differ from Kant on this, and in looking
at the Declaration of Independence, you can say the list of rights
is nonexhaustive, and I'm sympathetic to that, although not
as a matter of judicial review, but the Declaration of Independence
itself was a product of legislative compromise, so often recommended
by Justice Scalia, and at the end, there were references added by
the whole body to the draft, to the act of the providential god,
to the judgmental god, and to sacred honor.
So in looking for an adequate conception of our dignity, wouldn't
we have to look to these fairly countercultural American traditions
mentioned by Adam? The Biblical tradition, and I'm glad you
brought this in because I really like it; our stoic tradition, most
recently talked up by Tom Wolfe not only in A Man in Full,
but also in I Am Charlotte Simmons with respect to college
athletes, Jo Jo, the college basketball player freeing himself from
the slavery of big time college athletics through the study of the
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Meilaender.
PROF. MEILAENDER: Well, I'm not sure what I have to
say relates to wherever we are. I think every undergraduate ought
to have to read some Kant before getting the Bachelor's degree
conferred upon them, but I want to just ask a question about the
paper, which I do not want to direct simply to Adam because I think
a question-answer sort of session isn't very helpful. Adam
may want to provide his own reply at some point.
But I'm interested to know what the rest of you think. I
mean, it's a very nice paper. It sorts out these different
conceptions which are in certain respects complementary, though
also to some degree in tension with each other.
And what I'm not sure about is the meaning, I guess I want
to say, the meaning of the conclusion to the paper, "dignity
understood as humanity."
What happens there in the conclusion? How did the rest of you
read it? Is that an alternative concept? That is to say we've
had four delineated and now we get a fifth.
Is this one that gathers up certain strands of the four that have
been delineated and somehow captures what is most essential to them?
What happens in the conclusion of the paper? What does "dignity
as humanity" mean sort of for its own sake in relation to those
four strands that have been delineated?
I wasn't quite sure, which I don't make that as a criticism
of the paper. I mean, you only gave yourself a couple pages to
conclude it, after all, and one can only do so much there, but I
wasn't quite sure.
I'd be interested to know what the rest of you made of it.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Adam, would you like to comment?
DR. SCHULMAN: I'd rather hear what they made of it
DR. KASS: I'll bite because I very much welcome Gil's
question. The end sort of surprised me, and Gil's generous
way of putting it I would endorse completely. This is something
very useful here.
But if we tied this particular conclusion of this paper to some
of the discussion in the last session, it seems to me that various
of these attempts to articulate some teaching of human dignity are
a way of highlighting certain features of what it means to be human
and making them matters of regard, respect, encouragement and the
like, and that I took Adam not necessarily yet to be collecting
all of those things, but recognizing something of what they had
in common, still leaving open the question of which of those previous
accounts might be still in the conversation.
At least whatever criticisms he levels at them, I don't think
even in his own mind are fully damaging to them, as there's
some element there that commands our attention. And I took this
to be maybe an attempt to try our hand not at the language of dignity,
but to do the same thing sort of closer to the ground.
I mean, what are the human goods or what is good about our humanity
that we should be mindful of it, to do apologies for the presumption
of that substitution?
But, I mean, it means all the work is still to be done, obviously,
but I think it's the right work.
DR. HURLBUT: Leon, would our humanity then mean our preservation
of our capacity for evil, too?
DR. KASS: If you're a friend of freedom, then you
are a friend of the capacity for evil. If you don't like freedom,
then you say, "Do not eat of the Tree of Knowledge for good
To be a free being is to live with those two alternatives, and
if you want something that's incapable of evil, be a chipmunk.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Adam.
DR. SCHULMAN: It seems to me one could raise for discussion
the question would it be compatible with human dignity if biomedical
progress produced a drug or an operation on the brain that simply
removed our capacity for evil. Would that be something that would
be required for all human beings that reach a certain age? And
would that be something conducive to our humanity and dignity?
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Anyone want to respond to this utopian
question or dystopian?
PROF. GEORGE: Well, it would be, would it not, precisely
an abolition of human freedom? Is there any dissent from that?
I mean, is there a sense in which it would not be an abolition of
human freedom, Gil?
PROF. MEILAENDER: Well, there are some slightly deeper
questions, too, that Leon has raised. We might want to think about
whether there would be a difference between producing a drug that
eliminated that capacity, and training a person or perhaps "training"
isn't even the right word; bringing about a condition of a person
who was so virtuous that he was no longer in any way inclined or
drawn to evil. I would not think of such a person as a chipmunk.
DR.McHUGH: Well, Durkheim did go so far as to say even
in the company of saints there would still be deviants. The saints
themselves would begin to find the deviants in places that we hadn't
thought of as deviant before.
PROF. MEILAENDER: But I take my depictions of heaven from
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Dr. Lawler.
DR. LAWLER: You worry too much, right? It's absolutely
beyond our power to create a world beyond good and bad or good and
evil. I'm absolutely sure of this even though you can't
prove the future, right?
For example, the operation you're talking about, those who
prescribe the operation will inevitably exempt themselves from it,
and say mood control, so that we can always be in good moods. Mood
management, we wouldn't want to be completely unconscious though.
We'd want to have moods that would allow some creativity, but
not too much. So we would be creative, but we wouldn't be that
miserable. We wouldn't get so moody that we wouldn't be
late for work or kind of like the contemporary professor or something,
you know, kind of the careerist creative type guy.
So mood management would require an absolutely perfect understanding
of human self-consciousness which I think will forever elude us,
and not only that, but lurking behind mood management will always
be this thought: life really stinks. I can't even get through
the day without managing my mood.
So lurking behind every attempt to create good moods will be an
ineradicable, really bad mood. So I just don't think we have
the capacity to abolish good and evil. We just have the capacity
to really screw ourselves up by not understanding the good to make
life worth living.
So I actually think dignity is an intermediate concept and the
foundational concepts are the human goods we've been given by
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Hurlbut.
DR. LAWLER: That dignity — for example, what's
wrong with dignity. I'm not against dignity. I'm pro dignity,
but that dignity is in a certain sense an intermediate concept.
The foundational concept is the appreciation, gratitude for those
goods that have been given by nature and our perverse capacity to
remove ourselves from them.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Dr. Hurlbut.
DR. HURLBUT: When I asked Leon about human evil, I didn't
mean having just previously said something about freedom that we
would eliminate the freedom from humanity. I was just questioning
the equation, dignity equals humanity. That was what I was after,
and so dignity, if we're going to use this term meaningfully,
has to refer both to a capacity for the employment of our freedom,
but also some kind of reference to what's good in our freedom
within our capacities.
I mean, earlier when we were talking about children and dignity,
it struck me that I used the term dignity in a way that reflects
onto childhood, and yet I use it in a slightly different meaning.
I think children, for example, you watch children and people with
child-like mental capacities, very severely retarded people, for
example. You can sense right away in a hospital setting that you
can violate the dignity of any human being. It's an amazing
thing how everybody has the center to themselves that they know
when they're being violated, and that relates to the concept
of dignity in my mind, and it strikes me that this term is a beautiful
term because it subsumes the dimensions of human beings that our
only capacities are intrinsic natures and then goes on to be inclusive
of those manifestations of human freedom as we mature into our freedoms.
But if we're going to use this term, we can't just make
it an equation that dignity equals humanity somehow, can we?
We mean what's best in humanity, don't we, when we say
DR. KASS: Well, I think that the term is equivocal in
that sense, I mean, the same way as you would talk about the nature
of something you could say that whatever happens to arise naturally
is natural or you might say what you really mean by the nature of
the thing is the thing in its perfection or in its peak.
There is that kind of ambiguity. You say that's a wonderful
specimen of humanity. You don't mean it's whatever the
world has tossed up, but there is a kind of idea or you would say
of the Black Stallion in a way in which you wouldn't say of
Old Dobbin, "That's a Horse," because that's somehow
the embodiment of what the thing is at its best.
I think that's partly what we mean. It's not just anything
that the human species, God help us, has somehow put into the world,
much of it regrettable, but sorry.
PROF. GEORGE: Yes, Bill. I just wanted to say that if
we look at Adam's final paragraph, I think he has captured the
essential idea you're after. Notice that it's not a simple
equation of humanity and dignity. What Adam says is or what he
makes reference to is human dignity understood as our essential
and inviolable humanity.
I think what Adam must have in mind, and, Adam, you can clarify
this for us, is the human being understood as having inherent worth,
the human being as not reasonably or rightly reduced to instrumental
status, the human being who may have many nonessential things about
him, including emotions which may lead us to do inhumane, even inhuman
things, hatred, anger, and so forth, but those aren't what's
What would be essential is what I think, Bill, you're trying
to capture with the idea of the human good or the human goods or
the natural human goods, those things that, when considered as aspects
of the well-being flourishing of a creature who has inherent and
not just instrumental value, must be regarded as what — well,
Adam has given us, I think, a very apt term here — inviolable,
that which we cannot violate without violating something essential
to the human being, human being now considered as some entity, as
a creature of inherent worth, of profound .- well, what other word
can we choose but dignity?
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Alfonso.
DR. GÓMEZ-LOBO: This in a way tags onto what Robby
was saying, but I'm taking it a little bit further back. I
personally like the idea of cashing out some of the claims about
dignity in terms of human goods. I'm convinced that that can
be worked out, particularly given the steps that dignity invokes
or requires respect, and if one tries to figure out respect for
what, it seems to me that respect of the goods of a person is one
of the most reasonable replies one can give.
But I want to take it back to Kant, and I think Adam's criticisms
of Kant are very well taken. In fact, the definition of marriage
I always considered a terrible inconsistency within Kant's thought.
In fact, if I recall correctly, the German word for possession here
was a word that indicates rather use, not just possession, but Benutzen
or something like that, but I can't vouch for that.
But what I'm worried about is this. It's how can we give
power in a sense to the notion of dignity within the bioethical
discussion, and there it seems to me that the emphasis on the notion
that to consider that human beings have dignity is to consider them
as ends in themselves, and what follows from that is that it's
instrumentalization of human beings that constitute failurs in bioethical
For instance, in the question of the reasons why human cloning
might be wrong in principle, Adam lists because it violates interpreting
Kant, of course, and rightly so; it violates an inalienable right
or because of effects exactly, et cetera.
It seems to me that prior to that one could say, well, reproducing
or having children by cloning is a clear case of instrumentalization.
It's selecting a genome for reproductive purpose, and selecting
a genome would only be done with some kind of end and goal to reproduce
a great genius or whatever.
So it seems to me that there is this prior consideration of instrumentalization
of a human being that can be made fruitful for bioethics, and it
seems to me that when that is explained, it could have much wider
acceptance than it seems at first sight.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you.
PROF. MEILAENDER: I don't disagree, Alfonso, with
what you said, but I'm not sure instrumentalization gets everything
that we want to talk about. If you think about the cloning example,
for instance, I mean, there are some arguments that just seem to
go on forever about whether bringing a person into being in a certain
way instrumentalizes that person since, after all, only by bringing
them into being do they exist at all, and you have conferred the
good of existence upon them.
I mean, those arguments never seem to come to an end in the bioethics
literature, and I've never really known what exactly to say
about them, and so it seems to me that it might be that the issue
in that case, for instance, is not just instrumentalization of a
particular being, but the nature of the relation between the generations
or the fact that how we come into being is part of what we mean
by human dignity in some way.
And I'm not sure that that can all be captured in the language
of instrumentalization, though that language captures some things
that we mean. So it's in that sense that I think it's a
larger concept. It is what in the last session near the end Leon
referred to as sort of an anthropological concept before it gets
to some of these other issues. It just seems to me that it will
get a little too narrow and won't do all of the work it's
supposed to do if we reduce it to that, though I don't deny
that that's an important aspect of it.
DR. GÓMEZ-LOBO: Well, I agree with that, but it
seemed to me that this reduction or narrowing is what might be helpful
in the public domain, but incidentally, I would also interpret the
way the two generations would relate to each other in the case of
cloning, again, as instrumentalization.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Adam, I think you wanted to respond.
DR. SCHULMAN: I just wanted to amplify what Gil said.
It seems to me the prohibition against instrumentalization or objectification
can be helpful in certain biomedical, bioethical contexts, but it's
not clear to me that it can do all of the work that you suggest.
And in particular, there are a couple of problems with it. One
is that in Kant's formulation it's not so much that instrumentalization
is forbidden. Kant doesn't ever say that it's wrong to
use someone as a means. He says it's wrong to use someone only
as a means and not at the same time as an end, and that's a
serious problem in interpreting that principle even in traditional
moral problems, let alone newfangled ones like cloning.
But it has also been suggested by some critics of the notion of
human dignity in the bioethical context that it's really not
adequate to say that cloning essentially amounts to instrumentalization
because it all depends on how the child is treated after it's
born, and it's certainly imaginable that someone could be the
product of cloning and never know about it and be adopted by a family
that never knows about it and treated as a human being with all
of the rights and freedoms.
So the argument is made that you can't prove that just because
someone is cloned he has been treated like an object and has been
essentially deprived of dignity, and so it seems to me that one
would have to find a broader account of what is troubling or incompatible
with human dignity about the technology of cloning.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you.
Leon. Oh, I'm sorry.
DR. KASS: I want to change directions, Peter. I want
to pick up on some things in the paper that have also been part
of our discussions in the past and led to some rather heated exchanges
in the work on the Taking Care document as to how we speak
about worth and dignity, and Robby has already weighed in with
a deep reading of the Declaration and the meaning of equality in
which equality means more than having equal rights.
And in the paper there are suggestions that at least certain ancient
notions of dignity are aristocratic and are unsuitable therefore
for the discussion of democratic times, and as a matter of rhetoric
I think there's something to be said for that, but people, Peter,
Bill, Gil, willing to talk about the human goods or what is a good
community, they don't seem to be shying away from — they
wouldn't necessarily put it always in terms of virtue.
Paul speaks about the virtues of the physician, and I'm not
sure whether it's fair to say that some notion of what's
humanly admirable is necessarily off the table just because we are
And it seems to me part of the difficulty of some of these presentations
is you've given us for the sake of clarity a certain polarization,
and the question is, I suppose, can one give an account, an anthropological
account of the human that would hold together both the higher and
the lower without having to drive a wedge between them. There will
be circumstances in which we'll be invited when you've got
someone who has lost all of their higher functions and they are
simply reduced to a largely vegetative state. The question is what
does their residual humanity or residual dignity, if they have it,
apply just to how we are obliged to honor and recognize that.
But I'm not sure that the people who hold only that that should
not be eliminated are denying — this is to refer to an old
conversation where Alfonso said any other kind of notion of dignity
is purely a social construct or matter of social convention.
I don't think he really would — I know I don't want
to hold you to that, but we all look up to and find admirable certain
kinds of displays of our humanity and not just among the greats.
I mean, there is human dignity in the embrace in the house of mourning,
and what we're honoring there is not an act of wilfulness or
of reason, but of some kind of expression of the understanding of
what our humanity calls for, and when we see it we appreciate it.
So I'm fumbling towards saying I think that the task here
is to try to give an account of the human that Kant, for his own
reasons was obliged not to be able to give, having surrendered so
much of the rest of the world to Newton, but which holds together
the high and the low in the account of human life that doesn't
force us to start with to drive the wedge between them. Circumstances
may make those questions hard.
Now, if I may be indulged, Mr. Chairman, just a little longer,
there is a Biblical passage whose truth, it seems to me doesn't
depend upon the place you find it. It's in the Noahide Code
where it says, "Whosoever sheds man's blood by man shall
his blood be shed, for in God's image was he created."
I may have the subject and the verb wrong in the last. It may not
have been passive. He created him. It might have been active.
There is an attempt to give an account as to why homicide is wrong.
It's not just fear of punishment. There's a reason given.
To shed human blood is the destruction of a creature made in God's
image. One amongst the animals, it's in the context of the
law about the eating of the animals, but not nearly on all fours
with the animals, and indeed, humanity takes responsibility for
defending human life against its violation precisely in that law.
But the funny thing about the injunction is although man is god-like,
what is somehow sacred is his blood or at least you shall not spill
the blood, and that the blood of the human, the mere circulation
is somehow also dignified by virtue of its being part of the being
that's an image, admittedly nearly an image, but a god-like
Now, there's a way in which there's an attempt to hold
together a unity of the being however hard it might be theoretically
finally to justify, which begins to give a picture of the human
person not only in terms of the higher things, but in the very terms
of the psychophysical unity, to use an anachronistic term that would
support the intuition that it would be a violation of being itself
to shed human blood.
And that, it seems to me, is a place to start where you don't
have to begin to pull all of these things apart, but to see certain
kinds of foundational things beginning with the good of human life
in which human dignity and the sanctity of life are not simply at
odds with each other, but are somehow friends.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you.
I think we have — oh, excuse me. Sorry.
DR. KASS: No.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: I think we have time for one more
comment, and I'm going to give that to Adam who was kind enough
to pull this together. Do you have any comment, Adam?
DR. SCHULMAN: Actually I'd rather hear from —
I think Robby George had something to say.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Oh, I'm sorry. Did you have
your hand up?
PROF. GEORGE: No, I don't want to take Adam's.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: No, please.
DR. SCHULMAN: Well, I thought what Leon just had to say
is very fine. I wanted to say that in the paper I think, though
I tried to present as vividly as possible some of the problems with
the sources of the modern notion of dignity, it seems to me that
none of those problems are simply decisive and that there may well
be wisdom in all of those sources, including the Bible and Kant's
moral philosophy and classical notions, including the Stoic and
also the Aristotelian notion of excellence, and that all of them
may serve as useful sources in seeking a concrete understanding
of dignity that would be sufficient to help us weather the storms
of modern biotechnology.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you, Adam.
Did you want to add?
PROF. GEORGE: Well, if we had just another second I would
say how valuable I think Leon's comment is. One of the points
he made, and it's certainly true, is that it's difficult
to give a satisfactory, intellectually satisfactory, account of
the unity of the human being, but the other side of that coin is
that it's also difficult, indeed, notoriously difficult to deny
the unity of the human being, to defend an account of the human
being under which one's true humanity is one's consciousness
or conscious awareness and one's bodily self is a subpersonal
instrument of the consciousness considered as the true self.
There are many different versions, many different efforts to defend
that kind of dualism, and they have as far as I can tell, at least,
come to naught. So it's a very difficult problem on both sides,
not just on the one.
CHAIRMAN PELLEGRINO: Thank you very much.
Adam, I want to thank you very much for undertaking the heroic
task of trying to address this very, very complicated issue, and
I think Adam's intent is to provide us with a tentative draft
so that we could look at it, and I want to thank all of you for
your input, and I know you're going to take this under advisement
and probably work on it and come back with something further, but
I do want to thank you.
It's a daunting task, as you know from the discussion this
morning, to deal with this concept of dignity, and I think we owe
him tremendous gratitude.