Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stem Cell Research and Ethical Theories

This will probably overshoot 250 words, but I just wanted to run the stem cell debate past some of the ethical theories we talked about in chapter 2.

Utilitarian Consequentialism

The expectation of stem cell research is that the use of such research will rapidly expand our knowledge and production of certain types of intelligence regarding human tissues and organs. It's not hard to see how this research could be incredibly beneficial to humanity and reduce a large amount of pain and suffering; therefore, I would say that the utilitarian would be on board with stem cell research.

Kantian Deontology

This one is a pretty slippery slope. Kant wants us to treat ever person as an end, not a means to an end; however, when we're talking about embryonic stem cells, the discussion becomes: when does one obtain "personhood." Depending on your opinion (which Kant would want you to be very honest about), it may be a hard pass- Kant would never want you to destroy a life for the potential benefit of another.

Virtue Ethics

Far and away the most enigmatic ethical theory, in my opinion, virtue ethics would have us ask "how should I be?" The implications of this are numerous and seem to naturally mingle with the same issues that Kantian Deontology brought forth. What is more conducive to building moral character- to strive to advance medical science? Would it necessitate the sacrifice of innocent lives and, if so, would it be worth it? I'm not approaching this for an answer. The vague nature of (my understanding of) virtue ethics lends itself to a cycle of perpetual reflection more so than the other theories we've covered, and for that, it may be my favorite.

Word count: 287


  1. I think you're right, Virtue Ethics is at once the least determinate theoretical approach (and thus to some the most frustrating of the theoretical impulse) and the most inviting of further refined reflection and responsiveness to unforeseen circumstance. And that's exactly why I like it.

    It's more than okay to exceed 250 words on the weekly essay.

  2. This is a really good thought. I believe virtue ethics is my favorite approach as well. I think it is the most thoughtful and rational approach that doesn't have a certain standard set to it like the others. It is much more generalized yet quite relatable. I think experience always drives our choices ultimately.