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May 2015 Policy Study, Number 15-4


Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Morally Wrong





[1] John P. Noonan, General and Special Ethics, (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1947): 118-126.
[2] Richard Werner, “An Analogical Argument for Stem Cell Research” in Stem Cell Research, Ed. James M Humber and Robert F. Almeder, (Totowa: Humana Press, 2004): 10.
[3] Ibid., 4.
[4] Ibid., 10.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., 11.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Richard Werner, “An Analogical Argument for Stem Cell Research” in Stem Cell Research, edited by James M. Humber and Robert F. Almeder, (Totowa: Humana Press, 2004): 3.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid., 3-4.
[14] Ibid., 4.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid., 5.
[17] One may attack an argument in four ways. First, one can find an ambiguity in a term that is used equivocally. Second, one may find a logical fallacy the person commits in the argument. Third, one can find a false premise. Fourth, one can show the absurd conclusion that follows from the argument. I am attacking Werner in the third and fourth way.
[18] The same can be applied to using sentience as the standard for personhood. An unconscious person has no sentience.
[19] One of the ways to attack an argument is to show the absurd consequences that follow from it. I think this example illustrates the absurdity of Werner’s argument and view of personhood.
[20] Patrick Lee, “The Pro-Life Argument from Substantial Identity,” Bioethics, Volume 18, Number 3, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004): 253.
[21] Patrick Lee offered the following at St. Anselm’s College on Nov. 14, 2002: “First, sensation is a bodily action. The act of seeing, for example, is an act that an animal performs with his eyeballs and his optic nerve, just as the act of walking is an act that he performs with his legs. But, secondly, it is clear in the case of human individuals that it has to be the same thing, the same subject of actions, that performs the act of sensing and that performs the act of understanding. (And remember, it is the subject of acts of understanding that everyone, including those who deny that they are bodily entities, refers to as “I”.)”
[22] Lee, Bioethics, 250.
[23] This example came from a conversation between Dr. Keith Bauer and Max Herrera.
[24] The implication is the higher brain definition of death is wrong, and a brain dead human’s organs should not be harvested because the brain dead person still has a rational nature even if they are unable to show it.
[25] Werner, 11-12. Quoted from M. A. Warren’s book Moral Status (1997) 205-206.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Patrick Lee, Abortion and Unborn Human Life, (Washington D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996): 90.
[28] Thomas Shannon and Allan Wolter, “Reflections on the Moral Status of the Pre-Embryo,” Theological Studies 51 (1990): 612.
[29] Werner, 13.
[30] This example is used in Francis Beckwith’s article which defends the substance view of personhood.  “The Explanatory Power of the Substance View of Persons,” Christian Bioethics, 10.1 (2004): 33-54
[31] Lee, 91.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Francis Beckwith explained this point to me via email.
[34] Lee, “The Pro Life argument From Identity,” 262.




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