Defending Human Dignity
About This Event

Leon Kass of AEI and University of Chicago delivered the February Bradley Lecture.

In our new world of biotechnology, gathering powers to intervene in human bodies and minds raise profound challenges to the meaning of our humanity. Crucial to meeting those challenges is a robust notion of human dignity—the special standing and worth of human being and of being human. Yet we face today considerable disagreements about what human dignity is and what it rests on: Do all human beings have an unalienable dignity simply by virtue of being alive? Or can we destroy (or enhance) our dignity, dehumanizing (or humanizing) ourselves and undermining (or increasing) chances for full human flourishing? In this lecture, Dr. Kass will explore the relationship between two equally important—but sometimes conflicting—ideas: the basic dignity of human being and the full dignity of being human.

Leon R. Kass, M.D., is the Hertog Fellow at AEI, and researches bioethics, ethics, philosophy, marriage, family, and social mores. He served as chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2002–2005, and was a senior fellow at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago from 1991–2001. Dr. Kass served as senior fellow and associate director of the John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy at the University of Chicago from 1986–2001. He was a member, vice chairman, and committee chairman of the National Council on the Humanities/National Endowment for the Humanities from 1984–91. He remains a part-time professor in the College and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1976. Prior to this time he was a research professor in bioethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University and a tutor at St. John’s College in Annapolis.

5:15 p.m.
Christopher DeMuth, AEI
Leon R. Kass, AEI
Adjournment with Wine and Cheese Reception
Event Materials
Defending Human Dignity
Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

image Getting it right: US national security policy and al Qaeda since 2011
image Net neutrality rundown: What the NPRM means for you
image The Schuette decision
image Snatching failure from victory in Afghanistan
AEI Participants


  • Christopher DeMuth was president of AEI from December 1986 through December 2008. Previously, he was administrator for information and regulatory affairs in the Office of Management and Budget and executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief in the Reagan administration; taught economics, law, and regulatory policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; practiced regulatory, antitrust, and general corporate law; and worked on urban and environmental policy in the Nixon White House.


  • Phone: 2028625895
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Keriann Hopkins
    Phone: 2028625897


Leon R.
  • Leon R. Kass, M.D., is the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and the Madden-Jewett Chair at AEI. He was the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005. He has been engaged for more than 40 years with ethical and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advances and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues. His most recent book, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, seeks to promote American identity, character and citizenship. Along with co-editors Amy Kass and Diana Schaub, Dr. Kass is presently working to expand this project by creating video discussions and curricula materials that demonstrate how short stories can be used to enhance our understanding of the Meaning of America.
  • Phone: 202-862-7156
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Caroline Kitchens
    Phone: 202-862-5820
AEI on Facebook