Stem Cell Research: An Ethical Overview

1722 words - 7 pages

Firstly, in stem cell research the major ethical issue revolves around the use of the embryo. This is relevant in instances where human embryonic stem cells (HESC’s) are the subject. Since the embryo used for research will be incapable of developing due to its destruction the debate is often centralized around conceptions of life. Sides are not entirely polarized however as drawing the line for when embryos can be extracted is variable in debates. Furthermore there are discussions (like in the case of abortions) where the embryo increases in status as it continues to develop. Also there is an entirely different side in the debate against stem cell research founded in religious sectors however, not all organized religions hold the same views. Therefore stem cell debates are more complex than a question of either/or and must be examined from different angles.
In relation the main value expressed in the debate against stem cell research is life and it fits most clearly in the value families of persons and happiness (although the others are quite relevant). Respectively the value families of persons and happiness are contending out rightly therefore the most observable. In relation respecting human life down to the individual and recognizing the embryo as an included member that deserves similar rights (persons family). Even so, on the other hand, we strive to alleviate human suffering and tend to consider methods that work towards achieving this goal such as stem cell research (happiness family). As a side effect of these two combating statements the value of responsibility arises and then splits becoming viewable from either side in the main debate. Forming two different ethical concerns: (1) We have a responsibility to protect human life whenever possible (2) We have the responsibility to prevent human suffering whenever possible. Delving deeper from these examples the family of relationships reveals its presence in both arguments. As a result stem cell research and its application becomes the responsibility of humanity. However, this is even present in smaller communities such as the researchers since they are far closer to concerns of responsibility than outside individuals. Namely they are the authority as the information and potential benefits of stem cells are the fruit of their research. However, this is not to promote an appeal to authority or conversely the masses instead it reveals the necessity for an argument of this caliber to require a knowledgeable front before entertaining ethical concerns.
In unison, based on the values in question, two complex arguments develop: (1) We, as humans ourselves, have the responsibility to protect all human life including the embryo (in some cases beginning with the zygote) therefore stem cell research using HESCs should not be permissible as it violates this very principle by destroying the embryo (human life). (2) To promote the overall well being of humanity we have the responsibility to prevent or...

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