Owning up to our Agendas: On the Role and Limits of Science in Debates about Embryos and Brain Death

Journal of Law, Medicine Ethics 34 (1):58-76 (2006)
The ethical issues integral to embryo research and brain death are intertwined with comprehensive views of life that are not explicitly discussed in most policy debate. I consider three representative views – a naturalist, romantic, and theist – and show how these might inform the way practical ethical issues are addressed. I then consider in detail one influential argument in embryo research that attempts to bypass deep values. I show that this twinning argument is deeply flawed. It presupposes naturalist commitments that are at issue in the embryo research debate, and exhibits a blindness to alternative philosophical viewpoints. By considering the work of Hans Driesch, the discoverer of the facts of embryology integral to the twinning argument, I show how the twinning facts are compatible with romantic and theistic accounts that affirm full moral status for the early embryo. While these alternative interpretations might have a tenuous status in current scientific debate, they should be respected in ethical and policy debate
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References found in this work BETA
Hans Driesch (1929). Man and the Universe. London, G. Allen & Unwin, Ltd..
Hilde Hein (1972). The Endurance of the Mechanism: Vitalism Controversy. Journal of the History of Biology 5 (1):159 - 188.
G. Khushf (1997). Embryo Research: The Ethical Geography of the Debate. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 22 (5):495-519.

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