Moral status of the human embryo

Debates about disability rights and the permissibility of eugenics rest in part on theoretical disagreements about the moral status of cognitively impaired humans. This version of the account is now more unified and avoids the above charge of arbitrariness, while retaining the alignment with the commonsense view.

We do, after all, often treat people with potential differently from those without it. Another concern with those Special Relationship accounts that attempt to ground rights and requirements analogous to those of FMS is that they are overinclusive although see exceptions below.

You can make a difference, too! Of course, one can hold, on other grounds, that they in fact have different status, as McMahan himself does.

The Grounds of Moral Status

The combining of the chromosomes of the spermatozoon and of the oocyte generates what every authority in human embryology identifies as a new and distinct organism.

But none of this is true of the human embryo, from the zygote and blastula stages onward. The main shortcoming of this account is that, although it provides grounds for an elevation of moral status, there is no guarantee that this elevated status reaches the full array and strength of protections and entitlements associated with FMS.

The moral status of the human embryo – when is he or she a person?

Merely belonging to a species or other type of group is not the source of the reason not to interfere. So, for instance, a parent has at least two reasons not to kill his own child: Other products of conception are not human In order to establish a case for some embryo destruction extreme cases are often cited; most typically the hydatidiform mole or the choriocarcinoma, neoplastic and life threatening products of conception.

Suppose, for example, that the capacity to value which we will use as shorthand for the capacity to make an evaluative judgment were a sufficient ground for having a high degree of moral status.

Such entities lack the internal resources to actively develop themselves to the next more mature stage of the life of a human being. Journal of the CMF ;34 3: A human embryo is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens in the earliest stage of his or her natural development.

Then, according to iiia human being with the capacity to value has an even higher moral status. We have already conceded that the embryo is more, not less, than a single human life. University of Utah Press, pp. These issues include controversies regarding the treatment of cognitively disabled infants, such as the past U.

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A second problem is an arbitrary distinction between severely cognitively impaired humans and members of other similarly cognitively sophisticated species, were they to exist, who have analogous severe cognitive impairments. In contrast, the scalar conception highlights the importance of, for example, how often and how well one can exhibit or exercise a capacity to value.

Several prominent commentators have justified infanticide on the grounds that handicapped neonates are not fully human; amongst them eugenicist Margaret Sanger, 10 bioethicist Michael Tooley, 11 and Nobel laureates for the discovery of DNA, James Watson and Francis Crick.The moral status of the human embryo is central to contemporary debates on the ethics of cloning, embryo research, stem cell research, genetic engineering, assisted reproduction, preimplantation diagnosis, genetic screening, post-coital contraception and the production of chimaeras and 'non-organismal entities'.


The moral status of the embryo is one of the key pressure-points in ethical debates about post-coital contraception, therapeutic cloning, pre-implantation diagnosis, artificial reproduction, embryo research and.

George holds what is known among moral philosophers as the "equal moral status" view of the human embryo: "The principle to which I subscribe is one that says that all human beings are equal, and ought not to be harmed or considered to be less than human on the basis of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency.".

moral status and human embryos A similar advantage might be obtained using parthenogenesis, a process by which an unfertilized egg is chemically stimulated to divide into what scientists call ‘parthenotes’—embryo-like products from which stem cells may be extracted.

The Moral Status of the Human Embryo spring • volume 48, number 2 Nor is it a disordered growth such as a hydatidiform mole or teratoma. (Such entities lack the internal resources to actively develop themselves to the next more mature stage of the life of a human being.) Perhaps someone will say that.

The Moral Status of the Human Embryo. The question of whether, and to what degree, human embryos have a moral status requiring protection is a debate that still remains unsettled.

It is no.

Moral status of the human embryo
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