SHU Professors Join International Researcher to Discuss Dignity in Health and Law


Bryan Pilkington 222 pictureTeacher. Bryan Pilkington, creator and moderator of The Dignity Series

Earlier this spring, Seton Hall University hosted the fourth edition of The Dignity Series with a talk by Professor Michał Rupniewski. Titled “Dignity: Personalism, Health, and the Law,” the conference was based on his forthcoming book, Human Dignity and Law: A Personalist Narrative. Rupniewski is Assistant Professor and Faculty of Law and Administration at the Department of Political and Legal Doctrines at the University of Lodz in Poland. For the lecture, Rupniewski was joined by Professor Michael Baur, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Assistant Professor of Law at Fordham University and Professor Bryan Pilkington, Associate Professor in the School of Health Sciences and Medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor in the College of Nursing and Affiliate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Seton Hall. Pilkington is the creator and moderator of the series.

In his lecture, Rupniewski gave an overview of his upcoming work, saying that a specific way of appreciating dignity is contained in how the law understands the person, and therefore can be applied to improve the way we explain and interpret the law. Despite considerable differences between jurisdictions regarding the application of human dignity, Rupniewski supports the weight of humanity as a widely shared focal point.

“What impressed me most about the book, and I encourage you to pick up a copy when it is published, is its depth of engagement with a wide range of philosophical traditions in the attempt to build an account rendering of dignity from the law – not just a moral narrative which is then derivatively applied to legal issues,” Pilkington said. “So rooting dignity in the law is not a way to avoid the complicated philosophical critiques of the concept, its justifications and the normative implications of its use – it engages them on their own merits – but rather a sophisticated and deeply thoughtful approach to conceptualizing the space that law can create for human dignity on its own terms.

Pilkington created The Dignity Series to connect nationally and internationally renowned scholars with members of the Seton Hall community on pressing issues of our shared human experience. Lectures in this series compel participants to confront violations of human dignity by raising awareness and offering resources for reflection and response. Speakers for the previous series included Professor Patrick Smith of Duke University, Professor Michael Stebbins, Seton Hall Visiting Professor Toth Lonergan and Dr. Lydia Dugdale of Columbia University.

“Prof. Rupniewski joins a growing and impressive list of speakers who have enlightened and challenged us to think more deeply about how to treat others with dignity in a variety of healthcare settings,” Pilkington added. am personally grateful to have traveled from Poland to be with us in person and deeply appreciate the support of this series by our sponsors: the Center for Catholic Studies, the School of Health Sciences and Medicine, the IHS Student Services and the Faculty of Law The event would not have been possible without the work of colleagues such as Professor Gregory Floyd, Marisol Rivera, Dana Foreman and Mikayla Mitchell.

Rupniewski’s lecture presents research supported by the National Science Center of Poland, as part of project no. 2016/23/D/HS5/02400. A recording of the session and information about the book is available in the Dignity Series section of the IHS Bioethics website.


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