Dr David Kirchhoffer - School of Theology (Faculty of Theology and Philosophy)

Fully accredited supervisor - Can supervise as principal supervisor


David G. Kirchhoffer is the Director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre, a collaboration between the Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at ACU. He is also a member of ACU's Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry.

Dr Kirchhoffer grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa,where he studied biology and psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand, and theology at St Augustine College of South Africa. He did his doctoral studies at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. After working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law at the KU Leuven, he took up a permanent post at the Banyo campus of the Australian Catholic University(Brisbane).

He is Senior Research Associate of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg, and in 2015 was a Senior Visiting Fellow at the National University of Singapore's Centre for Biomedical Ethics.

David Kirchhoffer's primary research focus is on the meaning and relevance of the concept of human dignity, and contemporary understandings of the human person in contemporary ethics, in the fields of biomedical ethics, business ethics, social ethics, and personal ethics.

His most recent book, "Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics," develops a holistic and relevant understanding of human dignity for ethics today. Whilst critics of the concept of human dignity call for its dismissal, and many of its defenders rehearse the same old arguments, this book offers an alternative set of methodological assumptions on which to base a revitalized and practical understanding of human dignity, which at the same time overcomes the challenges that the concept currently faces. The Component Dimensions of Human Dignity model enables human dignity to serve both as a descriptive category that explains moral choices, and as a normative criterion that helps to evaluate moral behaviour. A consideration of two cases--violent crime and physician-assisted suicide--demonstrates how the model offers a way to avoid the pitfalls of both moralism and moral relativism, while still leaving space for relativity in ethics. By using an approach that should be acceptable to both religious and secular perspectives alike, this book offers a unique way out of the 'dignity talk' that currently plagues ethics.


Phone :+61 (0) 7 3623 7592 (Brisbane)
Email :David.Kirchhoffer@acu.edu.au
URIs : Staff Directory ProfilePersonal Website

Research Interests

Human Dignity ; Ethics ; Applied Ethics ; Christian Ethics ; Biomedical Ethics ; Human Rights ; Theological Anthropology ;

Methods Expertise

Historical-Critical ; Hermeneutic ;

Research Projects

No research project is currently recorded.

Selected Publications


Human Dignity and Human Enhancement: A Multidimensional Approach, in Bioethics


Secularization of the Concept of Human Dignity, in Louvain Studies 39 (2015-2016): 240-260

Questioning Human Dignity: The Component Dimensions of Dignity Model as a Bridge between Cosmoplitanism and the Particular, in Religion and Culture in Dialogue: East and West Perspectives, ed. Janis Ozolins, Springer


Personhood and Human Dignity, in Foundations of Healthcare Ethics: Theory To Practice (Cambridge University Press)


With Natalie Lindner L'Huillier. Preparing for the Synod on the Family: The Australian Response, in INTAMS Review: journal for the study of marriage and spirituality, 20, 1, 111-117.

Turtles All the Way Down?: Pressing Questions for Theological Anthropology in the Twenty-First Century, in Questioning the Human: Toward a Theologica Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century (Fordham University Press)


Tom Ryan, Book Review of Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics by David G. Kirchhoffer, in Australian eJournal of Theology, 20.2

The Challenges Facing Theological Anthropology Today, in Being Human: Groundwork for a Theological Anthropology for the 21st Century. Ed. David Kirchhoffer with Robyn Horner and Patrick McArdle. Melbourne: Mosaic; Eugene, OR: Wipf &Stock

Between Revelation and Reason: Human Dignity in Karl Barth and Gaudium et Spes, in Being Human: Groundwork for a Theological Anthropology for the 21st Century. Ed. David Kirchhoffer with Robyn Horner and Patrick McArdle. Melbourne: Mosaic; Eugene, OR: Wipf &Stock

The Concept of Human Dignity in Tertirary Campus Ministry: More Than Hot Air, in Journal of the Tertiary Campus Minsitry Association, 5, 1, 15-24

with Kris Dierickx. Menschenw??rde und Biobanken, in Menschenw??rde und Medizin: Ein Interdiziplin??res Handbuch

Human Dignity in Contemporary Ethics (Amherst: Teneo Press)

with Robyn Horner and Patrick McArdle (eds), Being Human: Groundwork for a Theological Anthropology for the 21st Century (Melbourne: Mosaic Press; Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock)


With Kris Dierickx. Human Dignity and Biobanks, in Annual Review of Law and Ethics/Jahrbuch f??r Recht und Ethik 20, 247-258

With Kris Dierickx. Human dignity and consent in research biobanking, in South African Journal of Bioethics and Law, 5, 2, 74-77

Human dignity and the moral status of animals, in Southern African Public Law, 27, 1, 116-132


Bioethics and the Demise of the Concept of Dignity: Has Medicine Killed Ethics?, in Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics (online version), 17, 2, 141-154

With Kris Dierickx. Human Dignity and Human Tissue: A Meaningful Ethical Relationship?, in Journal of Medical Ethics

With Kris Dierickx. New medical technologies and the ethical challenges for minors from the perspective of human dignity, in Menschenw??rde und moderne Medizintechnik, Interdisziplin??re Studien zu Recht und Staat, vol. 50, (ed) Jan C. Joerden, Eric Hilgendorf, Natalia Petrillo, Felix Thiele, 375-392. Baden-Baden: Nomos


Benedict XVI, Human Dignity and Absolute Moral Norms, in New Blackfriars, 91, 1035, 586-608.


Become What You Are: On the Value of the Concept of Human Dignity as an Ethical Criterion in Light of Contemporary Critiques, in Bijdragen, 70, 1, 45-66.


Pope Benedict XVI on the Dignity of the Human Person: A Blessing or a Curse for the European Project?, in Bulletin ET, 18, 1-2, 155-169.

Sacrament and Being: On Overcoming Ontotheology in Sacramental Theology., in Questions Liturgiques/Studies in Liturgy, 88, 2, 143-156.