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CUHK to Host Inaugural Lanson Lecture in Bioethics – 'Two Concepts of Dignity: Decisions about Assisted Suicide, Genes and Embryos, Psychiatry'

Prof Jonathan Glover

Professor Jonathan Glover

The Centre for Bioethics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) will host the inaugural ‘Lanson Lecture in Bioethics’ on the 19th of November 2016. The lecture entitled ‘Two Concepts of Dignity: Decisions about Assisted Suicide, Genes and Embryos, Psychiatry’ will be delivered by Professor Jonathan Glover, Professor of Ethics, King’s College London.  Does assisted suicide violate the ‘dignity’ of human beings? Or should a terminally ill patient suffering unbearable pain be allowed to have a ‘dignified’ death? Does embryonic research violate the ‘dignity’ of the embryos? And does genetic enhancement (or ‘designer babies’) violate human ‘dignity’?


‘Dignity’ is the most frequently used term in bioethics, and yet the least understood. Over a range of issues, such as physician-assisted suicide, both proponents and opponents resort to the idea that human beings have dignity in order to defend their own positions. So what exactly is ‘dignity’? In the lecture, Professor Glover will contrast two versions of respect for dignity. The first is about not humiliating people. The second (expressed particularly by Kant) is about showing respect for someone’s moral standing.


The lecture will also consider some uses made of the ‘moral status’ version in bioethics. These include claims that we should respect the dignity of the embryo, dignity arguments against assisted suicide, and dignity objections to various genetic choices. It will argue that these uses in bioethics of appeals to this version of dignity are examples of an approach to ethics that is ‘abstract’, rather than rooted in empathy for people. It will argue that an empathy-based version is preferable and sketch out this approach with reference to respect for dignity in psychiatry.


Interested members of the public are welcome and admission is free. Please register online at Event details are listed below:


Title:Two Concepts of Dignity: Decisions about Assisted Suicide, Genes and Embryos, Psychiatry.
Date:19 November 2016 (Saturday)
Time:2:30 – 4:30 pm (On-site registration starts at 1:45 pm)
Venue:Lecture Theatre 1, Cheng Yu Tung Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin (Map)

Professor Jonathan GLOVER

Professor of Ethics, King’s College London



Professor Alastair CAMPBELL

National University of Singapore



About Professor Jonathan GLOVER


Professor Jonathan GLOVER is a leading philosopher who specializes in Practical Ethics. Prior to taking up his Professorship of Ethics at King’s College London, he was already a famous world-class philosopher teaching at Oxford University. He has authored 7 books, including Causing Death and Saving Lives (1977), which is now a classic. What Sort of People Should There Be?(1984) was the first philosophical book ever written on the ethics of genetic choices and (in its second half) the first book on what is now called ‘neuroethics’. Choosing Children: Genes, Disability and Design (2006) descended from his Inaugural Uheiro Lecture in Practical Ethics was delivered at Oxford University. He chaired a European Commission Working Party on Assisted Reproduction. The Glover Report was published in 1989. His works have been translated into French, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, and Spanish.


About the Lanson Lecture in Bioethics


The Lanson Lecture in Bioethics is held annually by The Centre for Bioethics at CUHK, inviting distinguished scholars specializing in bioethics as speakers. The lecture series is generously supported by Dr. Edgar Cheng, Chairman of the Lanson Foundation, and is named after Dr. Cheng’s mother.


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