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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

A Social Understanding of Dignity: A Promising Approach in the Organ Selling Debate, by Zümrüt Alpinar-Sencan

Abstract: In contrast to either sceptical approaches arguing for the redundancy of dignity or more theoretical ones concerning only abstract notions, this paper presents a social understanding of dignity which attempts to give a satisfactory account of why some specific actions are considered to violate it. The practice of organ selling provides a context for exploring the possible meaning and function of dignity. The paper begins by explaining what a social understanding of dignity means, referring to Samuel J. Kerstein’s approach. After raising three criticisms specific to his approach and showing that they are not generalizable to a broader approach, some general objections will be raised and possible responses given. It will be argued that a social understanding of dignity is a promising approach to take when evaluating the moral permissibility of organ selling. Link