Human Exceptionalism

“A Middle Ground for Stem Cells”

My friend Yuval Levin has a piece today in, of all places, the New York Times about President Bush’s ESC funding policy and its moral import. Here are a few key quotes:

“At its heart, then, when the biology and politics have been stipulated away, the stem cell debate is not about when human life begins but about whether every human life is equal. The circumstances of the embryo outside the body of a mother put that question in perhaps the most exaggerated form imaginable, but they do not change the question.

“America’s birth charter, the Declaration of Independence, asserts a positive answer to the question, and in lieu of an argument offers another assertion: that our equality is self-evident. But it is not. Indeed, the evidence of nature sometimes makes it very hard to believe that all human beings are equal. It takes a profound moral case to defend the proposition that the youngest and the oldest, the weakest and the strongest, all of us, simply by virtue of our common humanity, are in some basic and inalienable way equals.

Our faith in that essential liberal proposition is under attack by our own humanitarian impulses in the stem cell debate, and it will be under further attack as biotechnology progresses. But the stem cell debate, our first real test, should also be the easiest. We do not, at least in this instance, face a choice between science and the liberal society. We face the challenge of championing both.”

Way to go, Yuval!