David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 30 (6):427-442 (2009)
In the wake of two recent developments in stem cell research, it is a fitting time to reassess the claim that stem cells will radically transform the concept and function of medicine. The first is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision in January 2009 to approve Geron Corporation’s Phase I clinical trial using human embryonic stem cells for patients with spinal cord injuries. The second is the National Institutes of Health’s decision to permit federal funding of research using donated IVF human embryos in their July 2009 Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research. We are now poised to see whether stem cell research can deliver on what it promises. However, what exactly does it promise and how? Moreover, who is doing the promising? Turning to the use of metaphor can help us to answer these questions and enable us to develop a better appreciation of the unique features of promised stem cell therapies. Indeed, metaphors have exerted profound influence in medicine, and it is fitting that we seek new metaphors for new therapies where appropriate. In this case, other metaphors such as magic bullets or the Holy Grail cannot capture what is unique about stem cells. Accordingly, I propose a new metaphor: the stem cell superhero. Stem cell superheroes are characterized by the following traits: they are seemingly capable of fighting the evil of virtually all disease (unlike “magic bullets”) and they seem to be our only hope of doing so, although to summon them we must make difficult moral choices. In the course of assessing the merits of three recent yet covert references to the superhero metaphor, I conclude that this powerful new paradigm employs a problematic logic (i.e., we cannot know that something is “our only hope”), but that the aspiration as such is a good one.
|Keywords||Human embryonic stem cells Superhero Medicine Magic bullet Metaphors Cybridization|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Francoise Baylis (2008). Animal Eggs for Stem Cell Research: A Path Not Worth Taking. American Journal of Bioethics 8 (12):18-32.
Robert Gibbs (2000). Why Ethics?: Signs of Responsibilities. Princeton University Press.
D. A. Jones (2009). What Does the British Public Think About Human-Animal Hybrid Embryos? Journal of Medical Ethics 35 (3):168-170.
Tuija Takala & Matti Häyry (2007). Benefiting From Past Wrongdoing, Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines, and the Fragility of the German Legal Position. Bioethics 21 (3):150–159.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Brooke Ellison & Jaymie Meliker (2011). Assessing the Risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome in Egg Donation: Implications for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. American Journal of Bioethics 11 (9):22-30.
Andrew Fenton & Frederic Gilbert (2011). On the Use of Animals in Emergent Embryonic Stem Cell Research for Spinal Cord Injuries. Journal of Animal Ethics 1 (1):37-45.
Howard J. Curzer (2004). The Ethics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (5):533 – 562.
Frederic Bretzner, Frederic Gilbert, Françoise Baylis & Robert M. Brownstone (2011). Target Populations for First-In-Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Spinal Cord Injury. Cell Stem Cell 8 (5):468-475.
Robert Streiffer (2008). Informed Consent and Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research. Hastings Center Report 38 (3):pp. 40-47.
David Magnus (2010). Translating Stem Cell Research: Challenges at the Research Frontier. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 38 (2):267-276.
Bernard Dickens, International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Guidelines for the Conduct of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (December 2006).
Melinda B. Fagan (2011). Social Experiments in Stem Cell Biology. Perspectives on Science 19 (3):235-262.
Nikolaus Knoepffler (2004). Stem Cell Research: An Ethical Evaluation of Policy Options. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 14 (1):55-74.
Mark T. Brown (2009). Moral Complicity in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 19 (1):pp. 1-22.
Added to index2009-12-28
Total downloads13 ( #119,415 of 1,098,973 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #79,853 of 1,098,973 )
How can I increase my downloads?