Prof. Bryan Pilkington, creator and moderator of The Dignity Series
Earlier this spring, Seton Hall University hosted the fourth iteration of The Dignity Series with a lecture by Prof. Michał Rupniewski. Titled “Dignity: Personalism, Health, and the Law,” the lecture was based on his forthcoming book, Human Dignity and the Law: A Personalist Account. Rupniewski serves as Assistant Professor and Faculty of Law and Administration in the Department of Political and Legal Doctrines at the University of Lodz in Poland. For the lecture, Rupniewski was joined by Prof. Michael Baur, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University and Prof. Bryan Pilkington, Associate Professor in the School of Health and Medical Sciences, Adjunct Associate Professor in the College of Nursing and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Philosophy at Seton Hall. Pilkington is the series creator and moderator.
In his lecture, Rupniewski previewed his forthcoming work, arguing that a specific way of appreciating dignity is contained in how law understands the person, and so can be applied to improving how we explain and interpret the law. Despite considerable differences between jurisdictions as regards to human dignity in application, Rupniewski upholds the weight of humanity as the widely shared focal point.
“What impressed me most about the book, and I’d encourage you to pick up a copy when it is published, is his depth of engagement with a breadth of philosophical traditions in the attempt to construct an account of dignity from within the law—not merely a moral account that is then derivatively applied to legal questions,” Pilkington said. “Thus, rooting dignity within the law is not a way to avoid complicated philosophical critiques of the concept, its justifications, and the normative implications of its use – he engages these on their own merits – but rather a sophisticated and deeply considered approach to conceptualize the space that law can create for human dignity on its own terms.”
Pilkington created The Dignity Series to connect scholars of national and international prominence with members of the Seton Hall community on pressing issues of our shared human experience. The lectures in this series force participants to confront violations of human dignity by raising awareness and offering resources for reflection and response. Previous series speakers included Prof. Patrick Smith of Duke University, Prof. 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 health spaces,” Pilkington added. “I am personally grateful to him for traveling from Poland to be with us in person and I deeply appreciate the support of this series by our sponsors: the Center for Catholic Studies, the School of Health and Medical Sciences, IHS Student Services, and the Law School. The event could not have taken place without the work of colleagues like Prof. Gregory Floyd, Marisol Rivera, Dana Foreman, and Mikayla Mitchell.”
Rupniewski’s lecture presents research supported by the National Science Center in Poland, under the project no. 2016/23/D/HS5/02400. A recording of the session and information about the book can be found in the dignity series section of the IHS Bioethics website.