Sunday, January 29, 2017

Discounting moral concerns for the greater good

On Friday, The Washington Post had an article by Sarah Kaplan about research on a chimera technique.  (Such research cannot receive federal funding.)  The article mentioned the moral and ethical concerns from different viewpoints but also included this quote from Vardit Ravitsky at the University of Montreal:
The more you can show that it stands to produce something that will actually save lives ... the more we can demonstrate that the benefit is real, tangible, and probable---overall it shifts the scale of risk-benefit assessment, potentially in favor of pursuing research and away from those concerns that are more philosophical and conceptual.

Ravitsky's argument is a utilitarian one ("it's useful, so let's do it") that prioritizes the ends over the means and ignores any reasonable bounds that reflect our values and beliefs about the dignity of human life. 

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