Science and ethics

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on April 8, 2009

Professor Robert P. George has an excellent, thoughtful response to twelve questions on the issue of stem cell research, abortion and science posed by law professor Douglas Kmeic. Kmeic, as some of you may remember, was an ardent pro-life Catholic who drank the Obama Kool-Aid.

I encourage you to read all of the questions and answers, but I wanted to make note of this one:

Q. Do you believe the president's stem cell directive to have any justifiable biomedical research goals? If so, what are they, and how have you distinguished these goals from other goals that are without justification?
Unethical science is never acceptable, even when its goals are laudable. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments on African-American men, for example, were utterly unjustifiable, despite the fact that their goal was to enhance understanding of the disease with a view to improving treatment of those afflicted. Science that relegates living human beings at any stage of development or in any condition to the status of disposable research material is inherently unethical. It cannot be justified by the goodness of its goals.  We all want stem-cell science to move forward. We applaud the stem-cell therapies that have already been developed (all using ethically unproblematic adult stem cells, by the way), and we look forward to many exciting new developments just over the horizon. Our objection is only to human embryo-destructive stem-cell research. We enthusiastically support research using adult and other types of stem cells that can be obtained and used without harming human embryos.

This is the crux of the issue, and the area where President Barack Obama's dishonesty is the most obvious. The Bush administration wasn't politicizing science. Obama is politicizing science. He is taking a knee-jerk, thoughtless yet popular position.

George mentions the risible Tuskegee experiments, but that's not the worst that science unconstrained by any semblance of ethics has done in the past century -- that belongs to the Nazi Josef Mengele. The intrinsic evil of what Obama has approved taxpayer funding for would be far more obvious if the subjects were just nine months older. Instead of having people like Kmeic who should know better speaking out, we have him torturing logic and ethics to explain it away.

0 comments on “Science and ethics”

  1. Nothing like asking a crusading conservative non-scientist for the low-down on scientific issues. But that's obviously right out of the Conservative Fruitcake Handbook; i.e., be sure your sources are hand-picked for their facility in fact obfuscation and convincing the faithful of their superior morality. But for heaven's sake don't quote actual scientists because they tend to use actual facts - and facts, of course, are the arch enemy of red-meat republicans. Just ask Joe the Plummer. I'm sure he'd agree with Dr. George that flushing a discarded embryonic stem-cell is morally superior to using it to save a life, if it should ever prove successful.

    Also amused by you conservatives' silly jabs at Politifact, altho I understand. Those pesky facts - especially from a Pulitzer Prize winner - can be frustrating to ideologues trying to justify their schtick.

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