Is The 'Compromise Position' Concerning The Moral Permissibility Of Different Forms Of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research A Tenable Position?
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The compromise position concerning the moral permissibility of different forms of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research has two commitments. The first commitment of this position is that it is morally permissible to derive hESCs from unwanted IVF embryos, despite the fact that this process involves the destruction of these embryos. The second commitment of this position is that it is morally impermissible to create human embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them in order to harvest their hESCs. I argue that this compromise position concerning the moral permissibility of different forms of hESC research is theoretically tenable, but unappealing. In order to do so, I first claim that although it may be morally permissible to destroy embryos insofar as they do not have a right to life, it can still be coherent to view them as deserving moral respect. I then argue that one may plausibly view the practice of deriving hESCs from unwanted IVF embryos as being compatible with affording the embryo proper moral respect, whilst also maintaining that creating embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them in order to harvest their hESCs is incompatible with affording this respect. However, although I argue that one may plausibly adopt the compromise position in view of this moral difference between the two forms of hESC research, I also suggest that the compromise position is unappealing. My justification for this conclusion is that there are good reasons to support the claim that therapeutic cloning is morally permissible, even if we concede that it violates the moral respect due to the embryo.