THE AMBIGUITY OF THE EMBRYO: ETHICAL INCONSISTENCY IN THE HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL DEBATE

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Abstract

Abstract: We argue in this essay that (1) the embryo is an irredeemably ambiguous entity and its ambiguity casts serious doubt on the arguments claiming its full protection or, at least, protection against its use as a means for stem cell research, (2) those who claim the embryo should be protected as “one of us” are committed to a position even they do not uphold in their practices, (3) views that defend the protection of the embryo in virtue of its potentiality to become a person fail, and (4) the embryo does not have any rights or interests to be protected. Given that many are willing to treat the embryo as a means in other practices, and that human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research holds great potential to benefit many people, one cannot but conclude that hESC research is permissible and, because of its immense promise for alleviating human suffering, even obligatory.

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