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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Shazaam! An Even-Handed Article on the Cloning Debate in WIRED



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This Wired article is an interesting overview of the cloning controversy and Dr. Bill Hurlbut's attempt to find a morally acceptable way to derive pluripotent cells that would have all of the attributes of embryonic stem cells but without the moral cost of creating human life in order to destroy it. His idea, known as Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT), would use groundbreaking biotechnology to create an artifact that would, in effect, create a stem cell line directly without first having been an organism. In other word, if it works, ANT would not create an embryo, and thus there would be no moral problems with using the stem cells that would be derived.

This is an interesting proposal that should be pursued in animal models to see if it is actually doable. But the most revealing part of the Wired article for me was the predictable lack of enthusiasm of the mainstream biotechnologists for the ANT proposal. This isn't surprising. They are not interested in consensus or compromise. Biotech scientists want to do what they want to do, e.g., human cloning, and they want tax payers to foot the bill in the billions of dollars. Thus, even as Hurlbut strives to bridge the growing gap between science and morality, the scientists really don't care. Believing that only scientists can decide what is moral in science, they insist that the rest of us mind our own business and let them get on with it. In other words, to heck with checks and balances, a decidedly un-American way to go.


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