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Human dignity: a guide to policy making in the biotechnology era?


This article explores the ways in which human dignity is used in debates about controversial biotechnologies, including biobanks, human gene patents, stem cell research and human cloning. Increasingly, human dignity is used as a form of general condemnation and as blanket justification for regulatory restraint. However, this use of human dignity marks a significant departure from the traditional, human-rights informed view of human dignity that has dominated bioethics debates for decades. In addition, on its own, it stands as dubious justification for policies that are aimed at constraining controversial biotechnologies.

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T.C. would like to thank M. Sharp for his insight and help, the anonymous reviewers for the useful comments and Genome Canada, the Stem Cell Network and the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research for funding support.

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Correspondence to Timothy Caulfield.

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Caulfield, T., Brownsword, R. Human dignity: a guide to policy making in the biotechnology era?. Nat Rev Genet 7, 72–76 (2006).

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