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Keywords:

  • chimeras;
  • embryonic stem cell research;
  • Great Apes;
  • human-animal chimeras;
  • human dignity;
  • moral status;
  • rodents;
  • stem cells;
  • stem cell research

Abstract: The creation of chimeras by introducing human stem cells into nonhuman animals has provoked intense concerns. Addressing objections that appeal to human dignity, I focus in this essay on stem cell research intended to generate human neurons in Great Apes and rodents. After considering samples of dignity-based objections from the literature, I examine the underlying assumption that nonhuman animals have lower moral status than persons—with particular attention to what it means to speak of higher and lower moral status—before evaluating the chimera research in question. I argue that (1) such experiments involving Great Apes should be prohibited out of respect for the research subjects and (2) such experiments involving rodents may or may not be permissible, depending on how we answer unresolved questions regarding rodents' moral status. In the end, concerns about human dignity prove insignificant.