18 November 2008

What it Means to Be Human

In working on my paper, I ran into a bioethicist named Wesley Smith. He began life as an attorney, but has moved into bioethics full time. He's a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and does work on pro-life issues, especially around euthanasia and assisted suicide. I also discovered that he has a great podcast, and it does a great job of explaining the issues in bioethics today in a way that is easy to understand. There is a debate going on in the academic world that has HUGE ramifications for everyone, but we are not aware of it- the fight over human exceptionalism. Essentially human exceptionalism is the idea that humans have a special status in nature because of our unique capacities and inherent dignity. This gives us special rights, like the right to life, and obligations to care for the rest of creation.

In academic circles, the idea that humans are exceptional and above the rest of animals is coming under fire. I was not aware of this debate until I started working on this paper and I suggest you all start educating yourselves on this. I don't know enough to speak well to it, but I do recommend that everyone go listen to his podcasts- they are short, generally on 6 or 7 minutes, and are well researched and explain issues relation to "what it means to be human."

The podcast can be found here. It can also be subscribed to on iTunes.

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