Human + Chimp = ?

kliman at mbcl.rutgers.edu kliman at mbcl.rutgers.edu
Tue Jul 23 22:23:12 EST 1991


In article <1991Jul22.081428.9399 at monu6.cc.monash.edu.au>, john at publications.ccc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:

> Sorry - my verbal shorthand. I meant that in THIS case, the objection is
> primarily religion-based, or derived from religious presuppositions. I have
> never seen an objection against cross-species fusion that stood up based on,
> say, utilitarian ethics. However, that doesn't mean that I think there is none.
> Of course research must answer to social concerns, but research that had to
> justify every new act of curiosity would never get anywhere. I speak as a
> government employee. I am not even sure that the ban on foetal research is
> justified on good ethical grounds, unless the principle of "thou shalt not
> offend thy neighbour's scruples" is an ethical ground.

As has been pointed out already, this newsgroup is probably not the appropriate
vehicle for this discussion.  Perhaps it ought to return to sci.bio, which has
to be better than forming a private mailing list, devoid of new input.

While I personally agree that the ban on fetal research is unfortunate, given
the promising results in medical studies, it is hard to argue with those who
say that the American public is footing the bill for our curiosity.  While the
pace of research is slowed down by the need to answer to the public (or
congress), it is the public's right to ask for justification.  If we, as 
scientists, can't give a better answer than "it's too complicated... you'll
just have to trust us," then we deserve to lose our funding.  Since it appears
to those in the know that fetal tissue transplantation could decrease suffering
in living individuals, it is up to the advocates to convince the public to put
greater pressure on their representatives to overturn the moratorium.  I suspect
that convincing the public of a need to study human/chimp hybrids to address
evolutionary questions would be much harder, even if we promised to stop early
in development (if development could even begin).  And I don't think all the
objections would be religiously-based, though admittedly some would.



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