The Personalist Principle, the Law of the Gift, and Health Care


Megan Meyer

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis


Basic Biomedical Science

First Advisor

Dr. Barbara Goodman

Second Advisor

Dr. Justin Beebe

Third Advisor

Father Scott Traynor S.T.B., J.C.L


health care, John Paul II, human dignity, love

Subject Categories

Catholic Studies | Medicine and Health Sciences


This thesis delves into the reflections on human dignity of Pope John Paul II. Using a few key principles that John Paul II highlights, the thesis seeks to connect these Catholic ideas to the health care field. To begin is a summary of two previously mentioned philosophies evident in the work of John Paul II: the personalist principle and the law of the gift. Next, is a discussion on how dignity in health care is jeopardized, which includes reasons the ideals John Paul II advocates apply to this field. With the personalist principle and the law of the gift at its foundation, the argument arises that providing quality care should involve caregivers striving to love their patients. For the purpose of this thesis, love is defined as a desire to will the good of another. Additionally, an analysis of modern health care ethics sheds light on the secular perspective of preserving patient dignity. The final section of the thesis discusses the effects of applying the personalist principle and the law of the gift in clinical settings.

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