Embryonic Stem Cells
Value / Quality of Life
Genetics, Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Artificial and Transplanted Organs or Tissues
Research on Embryos and Fetuses
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AbstractArgument about the ethical possibility of the therapeutic use of embryonic stem cells depends critically on the evaluation of the moral status of the very early embryo. Some assert that at the blastocyst stage it is only potentially human, not yet possessing the full ethical status of personhood, while others assert that from its formation the embryo possesses all the moral rights of a human person. It is shown that a decision on this issue is closely related to how human nature is to be understood. The idea of a person as a dual combination of body and spirit correlates naturally with the assertion of absolute personhood from conception, while an idea of human psychosomatic unity encourages a development picture in which the embryo only grows gradually into personhood. The latter view is seen to be encouraged by new advances in science which emphasise the importance of the concept of information in the discussion of complex systems. Other ethical issues related to human genetics are also briefly reviewed.
Journal of Medical Ethics 2004 December; 30(6): 593-597