Sunday, July 31, 2016

Destroying Embryos for Research

From guest blogger, Alex.

We just discussed the use of stem cells for research in class, and I find it to be a very interesting topic. The potential healing benefits of HESC research provide strong grounds in favor of the research. If looked at from a consequentialist perspective, the potential health benefits from the research seem to outweigh the loss of embryos involved and whatever suffering results from that loss for people who want to protect embryos. However, most of those who oppose the research argue that the constraints against killing innocent people to promote social utility apply to human embryos. Thus, as long as we accept non-consequentialist constraints on killing persons, those supporting HESC research must respond to the claim that those constraints apply to human embryos. What do you guys think? Do human embryos have moral status? If so, why? If not, why not?
I think it helps to map out the argument that killing human embryos is immoral. From my very brief research, in its most basic form, the central argument supporting the claim that it is unethical to destroy human embryos seems to go as follows: It is morally impermissible to intentionally kill innocent human beings; the human embryo is an innocent human being; therefore it is morally impermissible to intentionally kill the human embryo. It is worth noting that this argument, if sound, would not suffice to show that all or even most HESC research is impermissible, since most researchers engaged in HESC research do not participate in the derivation of HESCs but instead use cell lines that researchers who performed the derivation have made available. It has now also been shown that embryonic cells can be derived from a human embryo without killing the fetus, so would it still be immoral to conduct HESC research? Let me know what you guys think…is it immoral to conduct stem cell research? Or do the potential health benefits make it morally permissible? Thanks.   

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