Thursday, November 22, 2007

Confession Time

I've had a sneaking suspicion that the ESCR advocates had more than one mad scientist in their ranks. It's doubtful that this issue will get into our discussions in the class; there's too much on our plate now.

Why NOT Embryonic Research?: "

I heard about this new stem cell research yesterday on NPR, which broadcast a brief debate on the subject between Sean Tipton, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical
Research, and Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of Pro-Life
Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Basically, Dr. Doerflinger takes this advance as Great News in that soon there may be no scientific (let alone moral) justification to continue controversial research on human embryonic stem cells, whereas Dr. Tipton thinks such research should continue - just in case. He sees stem cell research as a race to the finish line (his analogy) and whatever it takes to get there is fine, even though 'some people' have moral problems with it.

It wasn't so much his point of view that puzzled me (after all, you can't expect someone who doesn't believe in moral absolutes to behave as if they do*) but the way he defended it; So, why should we continue with controversial research, even in the face of grave moral misgivings? Because 'we live in a pluralistic society'.


Now, I'm sure Dr. Tipton could give a better, more well-rounded defense than that, if pressed, but tho whole idea (very popular, of late) that a 'pluralistic society' must allow scientists to pursue 'whatever works' is just freaky.' Never mind advanced ethical philosophy, has Dr. Tipton never seen Frankenstein or Them or even The Hideous Sun Demon? Hollywood had this all sussed many decades ago... there are Some Things that Man was Not Meant to Tamper With.

And, the question must be asked; if Moral Pluralism is the standard, the foundational dogma of our modern society, then what is NOT to be allowed, and why? Aren't all ethical frameworks equally - that is subjectively - valid? Why NOT eugenics? Why NOT a genetically modified warrior race? Why NOT chemical and biological weapons?

The natural law would proscribe all these things on the basis that they are offenses against human dignity. Pluralism might find them all wrong now (because most people find them morally repugnant, even if they can't say why), but there can be no guarantee about the future. If most people' - or even if enough of the right people - become okay with it at some point, well, we can expect these kinds of examples of the New, Improved Dynamic Morality.

'How beautious mankind is! O brave new world: That has such people in't!'.

*This touches on a recent mammoth combox debate on morality and ethics. There is this idea that one may arrive at a workable moral framework in a number of ways and that there will be little practical difference in the end. But that is not true. Toss out moral absolutes and the divergences in ethical philosophy and practice are profound and immediate.



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