Bioethics, embryonic stem cell, embryonic stem cells, morals, public policy

Saletan stirs up bioethics blog

Wesley Smith’s “Secondhand Smoke” and Science Blog’s “Denialism Blog” both comment on William Saletan’s latest Slate column, “Rights and Wrongs: Liberals, progressives, and biotechnology.”

I have to admit, that while I find Saletan slightly disorganized at times, he manages to make quite a few people disagree with him, and does it so well.

You need to read the actual Saletan piece, as well as the comments on the two blogs.

For what it’s worth, here’s part of my contribution to the conversation at the “Denialism Blog,” where Mark Hoofnagle, an MD/Ph.D student, proves that we shouldn’t “mistake denialism for debate:”

You obviously feel very strongly that there’s some quality in humanity that can be diminished, but you continue to mix “defining life” with a request to define the characteristics that you personally believe constitute “humanity” or a “person.”

Let’s begin from the assumption that whatever it is that you feel can be diminished in humanity or that can cause you moral repugnance doesn’t come from a religious belief. Perhaps it’s empathy, imagination or simple learning from the history of humanity.

There’s a distinction between the cell produced by fertilization (a more accurate term than “conception”), parthenogenesis, or the various ways to reprogram somatic cells and other cells or groups of cells. It’s the same organization and integrated functioning that is lost at whole brain death with current technology. That’s why you work with embryos rather than gametes, and why Lee Silver’s comment about teratomas is incorrect.

History tells us – this thread reinforces – that when we begin with one point of discrimination allowing intentional acts that disrupt the life span of an individual or groups of individuals, the lines of demarcation are “fuzzy.”

By the way, is that “William” who posted a comment, the William, Saletan himself?

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)


4 thoughts on “Saletan stirs up bioethics blog

  1. >I suspect the flagrant name calling at the denialism blog is not so much the result of any frustration towards the arguements against escr, but rather a frustration towards themselves for not being able to provide a reasoned arguement for when life begins. The fact that the post by "blast assist" was allowed to stay speaks volumes about the character of the hosts of that blog.

    Posted by Steve | July 17, 2007, 4:31 pm
  2. >Good comment about the blast assist remarks. For the most part, the language on prolife and conservative sites is starkly contrasted by the profanity and ad hominem attacks on the "progressive" and leftist sites.Why do they insist that the embryo and the fetus – or any other human that's not human enough to meet their criteria – is worth less than they are, yet get so defensive about "when life begins?"

    Posted by | July 17, 2007, 6:07 pm
  3. >I think they are frustrated because they claim to be so grounded in science, and yet cannot produce a scientific definition for the beginning of life. Instead, they produce arbitary and philosophical notions of what a human organism should be, rather than what it is.

    Posted by Steve | July 17, 2007, 8:26 pm
  4. >That's correct. Scientific fact doesn't back them up, and so they work backwards — they try to figure out what an embryo doesn't have or cannot yet do, and then they make THAT the criterion for personhood.

    Posted by bmmg39 | July 19, 2007, 9:21 pm

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