However, those that are against embryonic stem cell research believe that the possibility of scientific benefits of research do not outweigh the immoral action of tampering with the natural progression of a fetal development and interfering with the human embryo’s right to live.
In light of these two opposing views, should embryonic stem cells be used in research?
Based on this reductionist view of life and personhood, utilitarian advocates argue that the result of the destruction of human embryos to harvest stem cells does not extinguish a life.
Further, scientists state that any harm done is outweighed by the potential alleviation of the suffering enduring by tremendous numbers of people with varying diseases.
The complexity of the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, like the Sorites paradox, demonstrates there is no single, correct way to approach a problem; thus, there may be multiple different solutions that are acceptable.
Whereas the definition of personhood cannot be completely resolved on a scientific basis, it serves a central role in the religious, political, and ethical differences within the field of embryonic stem cell research.This type of reasoning, known as Bentham’s Hedonic (moral) calculus, suggests that the potential good of treating or researching new cures for ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, certain cancers, etc.outweighs any costs and alleviate the suffering of persons with those aliments.However, since the “zygote is genetically identical to the embryo,” which is also genetically identical to the fetus, and, by extension, identical to the baby, inquiring the beginning of personhood can lead to an occurrence of the Sorites paradox, also acknowledged as “the paradox of the heap.” The paradox of the heap arises from vague predicates in philosophy.If there is a heap of sand and a grain is taken away from that heap one by one, at what point will it no longer be considered a heap – what classifies it as a heap? When, in the development of a human being, is an embryo considered a person with moral standing?The principal argument for embryonic stem cell research is the potential benefit of using human embryonic cells to examine or treat diseases as opposed to somatic (adult) stem cells.Thus, advocates believe embryonic stem cell research may aid in developing new, more efficient treatments for severe diseases and ease the pain and suffering of numerous people.Some ethicists attempt to determine what or who is a person by “setting boundaries” (Baldwin & Capstick, 2007).Utilizing a functionalist approach, supporters of embryonic stem cell research argue that to qualify as a person, the individual must possess several indicators of personhood, including capacity, self-awareness, a sense of time, curiosity, and neo-cortical function.They further support their argument by noting that stem cell research uses embryonic tissue before its implantation into the uterine wall.Researchers invent the term “pre-embryo” to distinguish a pre-implantation state in which the developing cell mass does not have the full respects of an embryo in later stages of embryogenesis to further support embryonic stem cell research.