Sunday, July 31, 2016

Stem Cells and Slippery Slopes

From guest blogger, William.

In class we talked about stem cells and the moral arguments for and against the use of them. There are two types of stem cells. The first type is Human Embryonic Stem Cells (HESC). These are harvested from embryos inside of the womb and have many medical and industrial uses. The moral arguments against using this type of stem cell are very similar to the moral arguments against abortion. The second type is Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPS). These are created from skin cells and have the same uses as HESCs. The moral argument against using IPSs is interesting to say the least. Because IPSs are created using skin cells which are readily available and slough off of our bodies constantly, the arguments that are used to paint the use of HESCs as immoral do not work. Pretty much every modern philosopher thinks that the use of IPSs is completely moral. However, some philosophers have still tried to call the use of IPSs immoral. To do so they have made use of the slippery slope fallacy.

The slippery slope fallacy is a dangerous argument to use. In my opinion, it is an extremely poor argument to use in almost any debate. The premise of this argument is that the use of IPSs for medical and industrial use would send society down a dangerous path. This argument conjures up images of clone armies and forced cell harvesting, things that are clearly immoral. The issue with this argument is that it is essentially fear-mongering. There is no evidence that the use of IPSs will lead to the consequences laid out previously. Another problem with this argument is that it does not allow for any middle ground. It implies a direct movement from the use of IPSs for medical use and product testing to clone armies. However, the world simply does not work that way. Nature and society always regress back to the mean. While extremes may happen they are extremely unlikely. Yes, unintended consequences are guaranteed from any decision. But, in this argument they are simply incomprehensible. The argument against IPS use is a futile grasp at straws.

1 comment:

Lee Troz said...


I tend to agree with your point that the slippery slope fallacy is not a prime argument to use in a debate. It is born from the fear that people have towards change. Wasn't there a popular (though now comical) stigma that rock n' roll music was that of the devil's? Mothers and fathers were also apparently reluctant of their children watching such artists such as Elvis and The Beatles...and I believe the same argument was made to justify those fearful feelings back then as the one used now with stem cell research: If you let this slide now, then soon all rules won't matter and anything will go, and society will fall apart!

I think society is all the better for Elvis and The Beatles and bands like AC/DC, and I think it would be still better off with the continued use of stem cell research.