Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Dignity's Danger

Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Dignity's Danger

Article excerpt

There's one thing that's clear to me

No one dies with dignity

We just try to ignore the elephant somehow.

-Jason Isbell, "Elephant" (from the album Southeastern)

The meaning of "dignity" has changed, and it has become dangerous. Once employed routinely to support the uniqueness of the human-as in "human dignity"-the noun has turned on its adjective. Dignity is now used as a justification for an assault on human life.

We used to speak of human dignity as that quality which underscores why human life is worth protecting. But many now use "dignity" to justify harm to humans. I'm talking of course of the idea of "death with dignity," which perverts the notion of dignity in order to destroy the human rather than protect the human.

Recently, Belgium got rid of age restrictions for euthanasia and, along with the Netherlands, has begun to allow euthanizing the mentally ill. Also chilling is the shift in popular attitudes toward "death with dignity." Rather than being something regrettable and sad-even for those who view it as necessary in some cases-it has become something to celebrate. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.