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Abstract 摘要

What does a death have dignity? In modern healthcare, the wide use of new technology has generated confusion around how to define and protect human dignity, especially in the case of death and dying. Those who advocate the legalization of assisted suicide often appeal to the right to “die with dignity” and the right to individual autonomy. The problem is that it is very difficult to justify one particular understanding of human dignity in the contemporary pluralistic world through a rational formulation without defining dignity.

In this paper, the authors attempt to respond to the current debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide from a Confucian perspective. The paper first defines the Confucian concept of human dignity and shows how the concept could be used in the case of dignity in death and dying. The authors argue that in Confucianism, there are two kinds of dignity: One is intrinsic dignity, which is endowed by Heaven on everyone, and the other is extrinsic dignity, which arises from the cultivation of virtues. This extrinsic dignity is also called “personal dignity.” Unlike the individual-oriented human dignity model, Confucian ethics argue for a family-oriented model of human dignity. That is to say, the Confucian ideal of human dignity is not satisfied by a concept of human dignity that is centered on individual rights and freedom of choice; instead, it focuses on relations in a concrete community in which a person’s human dignity is actualized through morals and virtues. In the case of euthanasia and assisted suicide, therefore, the decision should not be solely based on freedom of choice, but on what kinds of values and obligations the person has. In addition, the paper shows that the Confucian view of human dignity does not support the idea of prolonging life through technological means without restraints.

在當代的醫療實踐中,各種新的醫療技術在臨終階段的應用引發了關於如何維護死亡的尊嚴的激烈爭論。爭論的焦點集中在對什麼是人的尊嚴和什麼是死亡的尊嚴的概念的不同理解上。人的尊嚴概念在當代西方的倫理學中尚沒有得到清晰的闡釋,死亡的尊嚴概念更是存在混亂。儒家倫理學則可以在這種討論中為問題的解決提供新的思路。本文試圖重建儒家的人的尊嚴和死亡的尊嚴的基本含義,並對死亡的尊嚴與人的生物學生命的關係,死亡的尊嚴與人的痛苦的關係,死亡的尊嚴同人的自主性的關係,以及死亡的尊嚴同社會公平正義之間的關係做出分析說明。儒家關於人的尊嚴的觀點有助於化解西方死亡倫理研究中出現的概念混亂和理論矛盾。

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