Clinics and hospitals around the globe are offering stem cell treatments to persons with serious conditions for whom no effective therapies are available in their home countries. Many of these treatments, which are touted as cures for such conditions as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries, have not gone through clinical trials that establish their safety and efficacy. Indeed, it is unclear whether some of them even utilize stem cells. State regulation of these therapies tends to (...) be weak or nonexistent in some of the countries in which they are offered. This puts those who believe they must travel abroad for stem cell treatments at risk of injury from procedures that .. (shrink)
: National bioethics commissions have struggled to develop ethically warranted methods for conducting their deliberations. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission in its report on stem cell research adopted an approach to public deliberation indebted to Rawls in that it sought common ground consistent with shared values and beliefs at the foundation of a well-ordered democracy. In contrast, although the research cloning and stem cell research reports of the President's Council on Bioethics reveal that it broached two different methods of public (...) deliberation—balancing goods and following an overarching moral principle—it adopted neither. Thereupon its prime mover, Leon Kass, influenced particularly by the approach of Leo Strauss, sought to develop a method of public deliberation guided by tradition and practical wisdom. When this failed, the Council fell back on a method that took account of shared fundamental values of a free democracy—a method remarkably akin to that employed by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. Respect for diverse reasonable conceptions of the good in a democratic polity requires national bioethics commissions to seek and incorporate that which is valuable in opposing positions. (shrink)
: The transplantation of adult human neural stem cells into prenatal non-humans offers an avenue for studying human neural cell development without direct use of human embryos. However, such experiments raise significant ethical concerns about mixing human and nonhuman materials in ways that could result in the development of human-nonhuman chimeras. This paper examines four arguments against such research, the moral taboo, species integrity, "unnaturalness," and human dignity arguments, and finds the last plausible. It argues that the transfer of human (...) brain or retinal stem cells to nonhuman embryos would not result in the development of human-nonhuman chimeras that denigrate human dignity, provided such stem cells are dissociated. The article provides guidelines that set ethical boundaries for conducting such research that are consonant with the requirements of human dignity. (shrink)
: Gill and Sade, in the preceding article in this issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, argue that living individuals should be free from legal constraints against selling their organs. The present commentary responds to several of their claims. It explains why an analogy between kidneys and blood fails; why, as a matter of public policy, we prohibit the sale of human solid organs, yet allow the sale of blood; and why their attack on Kant's putative argument against (...) the sale of human body parts is misplaced. Finally, it rejects the claim that the state is entitled to interfere with the actions of individuals only if such actions would harm others. We draw certain lines grounded in what Rawls has termed "public reason" beyond which we do not give effect to the autonomous self-regarding decisions of individuals. Public resistance to the sale of human body parts, no matter how voluntary or well informed, is grounded in the conviction that such a practice would diminish human dignity and our sense of solidarity. A system of organ donation, in contrast, conveys our respect for persons and honors our common humanity. (shrink)
Reproductive medicine, a sector of a health care system increasingly captured by the demands of the marketplace, is enmeshed in a drive to sell certain human bits and pieces, such as gametes, cells, fetal eggs, and fetal ovaries, for reproductive purposes. The ethical objection raised by Kant and Radin to the sale of human organs -that this is incompatible with human dignity and worth - also applies to these sales. Moreover, such sales nullify the reproductive paradigm, irretrievably replacing it with (...) a ma nufacturing paradigm. This represents a change in kind, not just of degree, in the way that we view our capacity to generate children and destroys our concept of reproduction as an essentially human activity. In the face of a struggle to retain those common ethical values at the foundation of reproductive medicine, this form of commodification of the human body should be viewed as ethically unacceptable. (shrink)
: Genetics professionals have been reluctant to test children for adult-onset conditions because they believe this would create psychosocial harm to children not counterbalanced by significant benefits. An additional concern they express is that such testing would violate the autonomy of these children as adults. Yet weighing the harms and benefits of such testing results in a draw, with no substantial harms proven. Moreover, such testing can enhance, rather than violate the adult autonomy of these children. In deciding whether (...) to proceed with predictive testing of children, parents, mature children, and health care professionals should consider a complex of factors relevant to the particular child. The importance of these factors will vary depending on the condition at issue, the age and stage of development of the child, family dynamics, and the concerns, values, and objectives of the parents and mature child. The final decision whether to test a child for an adult-onset condition should rest with the parents and the mature child. (shrink)
A right, unlike an interest, is a valid claim, or potential claim, made by a moral agent, under principles that govern both the claimant and the target of the claim. Animals cannot be the bearers of rights because the concept of rights is essentially human; it is rooted in and has force within a human moral world.
into treatment decisions is viewed as pernicious by some who claim that these presuppose the Nazi position that those who are ‘devoid of value’ must be exterminated. ‘Quality of life’ judgments are said to deny the equal value of human beings and to assume that some lives are not ‘worthy to be lived’. It is argued that the analogy misconstrues the senses of ‘value’ and ‘quality’ employed by Naziism and a ‘quality of life’ position. This leads the analogizers incorrectly to (...) claim that both views assimilate the value of human beings to the value of their condition. A ‘quality of life’ position is grounded in recognition of the logical priority of the value of human beings as self-reflective evaluators and agents, which is a matter of kind, not degree. The ‘quality of life’ is explicated in terms of the standards of well-being of individuals, which are derived from their basic human needs and their individual priorities and goals. The use of ‘quality of life’ judgments is morally required to ensure that considerations of justice and individual autonomy govern treatment decisions. The purported analogy misconstrues the views of both the Nazi position and a ‘quality of life’ position and so is seriously misdirected. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)