Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Despite some advice to the contrary, I think it might be useful to draw some lines in discussing ethical research.

There are points of agreement in the research debate.

Most people agree that it would be unethical to kill an innocent child or adult or research purposes, regardless of the potential benefit.

Also, most would agree that it would be unethical to destroy en embryo even in the moment of conception if the benefit is non-existant or trivial (say, to make Coca-Cola taste sweeter).

So, in the graph below, I plotted these point on a graph, and drew a line between them separating destructive research that is definitely unethical based on the above two premises from research that is not ruled out by these premises alone.

But wait, it's hard to imagine a scenario where we would be willing to perfrom on adolescents, and not adults. In fact, most people wouldn't be willing to perfrom this research on infants, so let's move the sticks...

Ok, so now our range of area of debate is bounded by conception and birth on the development access, and no benefit and save the world on the benefit access.

My position, and that of the Catholic Church, is that there is no more lines to draw. Or rather, there is a vertical line on the y-axis -- it is unethical to destroy any human life for research puroposes, regardless of the potential benefit.

In my opinion, this is the most coherent position that has been articulated. In short, I have not seen a convincing argument for why that line (or whatever shape) should be anything other than a vertical line on the Y-axis.
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