It is not ethically permissible to destroy human embryonic life for medical progress.
Personhood and the Scientific Questionability of Embryonic Stem Cell Research The ethics behind embryonic stem cell research are controversial because the criteria of ‘personhood’ is “notoriously unclear.” Personhood is defined as the status of being a person, entitled to “moral rights and legal protections” that are higher than living things that are not classified as persons.
Thus, the end goal of stem cell use justifies sacrificing human embryos to produce stem cells, even though expending life is tantamount to murder.
Opponents of embryonic stem cell research would equate the actions done to destroy the embryos as killing.
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.
Therefore, under this feeble utilitarian approach, stem cell research proceeds at the expense of human life than at the expense of personhood.
One can reject the asserted utilitarian approach to stem cell research as a reductionist view of life because the argument fails to raise ethical concerns regarding the destruction embryonic life for the possibility of developing treatments to end certain diseases.
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?