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Science and technology. -ONE-. Learning objective. To consider the relationship that science has to ethics. To understand the need for human experimentation. KEY WORDS Relationship Thalidomide Right to information. KEY QUESTION

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learning objective
Learning objective
  • To consider the relationship that science has to ethics.
  • To understand the need for human experimentation




Right to information


Should science be subject to ethics or should it be the other way round?

  • Key questions and quotes
  • Medical experimentation has saved many lives.
  • The drug Thalidomide caused new laws and regulations regarding the testing of drugs use of drugs.
  • Experimentation is on animals or humans.
  • Doctors have an ethical duty to ensure that when experimentations are as safe as possible.
  • They must publish any possible side-effects promptly
  • The government has a duty to ensure that this is enforced.
  • Most people believe that science should be kept in check by ethics.
key questions
Key questions
  • What should the relationship the between ethics and science?
  • Should one control the other, and if so which should control which?
  • What kinds of ethical rules should science and technology follow and who should keep check?
  • “Science has taught us to put the atom to work. But to make it work for good instead of for evil lies in the domain dealing with the principles of human duty. We are now facing a problem more of ethics than physics.”

(Baruch 2000)

  • “Ethics and science need to shake hands”

Cabot 2000

  • “Science should submit to ethics, not ethics to science”


  • “Science, by itself, cannot supply us with an ethic. It can show us how to achieve a given end, and it may show us that some ends cannot be achieved.”


  • Science cannot stop while ethics catches up...and nobody should expect scientists to do all the thinking for the country.”


the need for ethics
The need for ethics
  • Science needs ethics.
  • Without it, science will be unchecked.
  • Inventions and advancements despite being many and with speed could lead us into a world which we do not want to live in.
  • A world like:
    • Walden Two
    • 1984
    • Brave new world

one key area that ethics needs to be concerned with is EXPERIMENTATION

human experimentation
Human experimentation
  • In the last century there have been enormous breakthroughs in medicine.
  • The discovery of penicillin (Alex Fleming) and the mass production of the drug had a major impact on reducing the number of deaths during WW3 – perhaps as many of 15 per cent of all causalities among allied forces.
  • Some terrible mistakes have been made when drug treatments have gone badly wrong such as THALIDOMIDE.


THALIDOMIDE: a drug prescribed from 1957 – 1961 in many countries chiefly to pregnant women to combat morning sickness.

PHOCOMELIA: a deformity whereby the individual has very short or absent limbs.

  • Testing was inadequate, resulting in terrible effects on the children of women who had taken the drug in their pregnancies.
  • Aprox 20,000 children were born with severe malformities including PHOCOMELIA.
  • Because of cases such as the Thalidomide catastrophe, regulations require new drugs to be tested on both animals and consenting humans.
human experimentation1
Human experimentation
  • There is some risk, which is one reason why testing on animals is carried out before human trials can begin.
  • Nevertheless, there are recent examples where things have gone wrong.
  • On march 13 2006, six healthy men were -injected with an anti-inflammatory drug being developed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and leukaemia.
human experimentation2
Human experimentation
  • Almost immediately their bodies swelled up and their breathing became erratic.
  • Their organs began to fail leaving two of them in a critical condition.
  • The drug was being developed by a German firm TeGenero.
  • The men had been paid £2000 each for taking part in the study
ethical issues
Ethical issues
  • A number of ethical issues are involved here.
    • the duty of doctors, scientists and researchers to act ethically in the production of new drugs, both in their preparation and also in the testing
    • the open and honest publication of results
  • Doctors take the Hippocratic oath, which begins ‘first do no harm’.
  • They have a professional ethical duty to the public, their patients, those involved in the production of new medicines and the profession.
right to information
  • If a doctor or drug company knows of side-effects to their drugs these must be published.
  • Concealing such information sacrifices the interest of the patients or the public for short-term sales goals, and it endangers future medicine production by casting doubt on the integrity of the industry.
  • These pharmaceutical companies fund the development of new treatments which bring benefit to many. In a recent case of GlaxoSmithKline was warned by the UK drugs regulator that they should have been quicker to raise the alarm on the risk of suicidal behaviour associated with the antidepressant Seroxat in those under 18.
  • There was evidence that the drug was not as effective with children and adolescents and evidence that there was a higher risk of suicidal behaviour for those in this age group.
  • While GlaxoSmithKline believed they had published the information early enough the regulator disagreed.
  • It is not known how many young people may have committed suicide as a result of the delay but the regulators felt many young people were put at an unnecessary risk.
  • GlaxoSmithKline is thought to have know about the risk in the late 1990’s, but data showed that details of this risk were not passed to the regulatory authority until may 2003
  • The state has a ethical obligation to have a regulated environment requiring safeguards to protect the public from possible side-effects from new drugs while at the same time allowing for the development of new medicines which have life-saving or life-enhancing consequences.
  • Consider the quotations at the beginning of this lesson. Write a sentence explaining what each one means.
  • Are there any that you strongly agree or disagree with?
  • How might you respond to them?
  • Key questions and quotes
  • Medical experimentation has saved many lives.
  • The drug Thalidomide caused new laws and regulations regarding the testing of drugs use of drugs.
  • Experimentation is on animals or humans.
  • Doctors have an ethical duty to ensure that when experimentations are as safe as possible.
  • They must publish any possible side-effects promptly
  • The government has a duty to ensure that this is enforced.
  • Most people believe that science should be kept in check by ethics.
learning objective1
Learning objective
  • To know and understand the importance of human experimentation.
  • To know and understand the arguments for and against human experimentation.



Informed consent



Should experimentation continue at any cost?

  • Human experimentation is essential for the security of drugs.
  • Testers are liable if they cause injury
  • There have been some extreme cases of human rights violations when ethics has been sidelined
  • For
    • More accurate results
    • Security of mind
    • Prevents disasters
  • Against
    • Informed consent
    • Unequal society
    • Abuse and a Slippery slope
animal and human testing
Animal and human testing
  • Animal testing form part of the process involved in gaining a licence to sell a medicine in developed countries.
  • The human testers have to give their informed consent in order for such testing to be ethical.
  • Where there have been experiments that have gone wrong and caused problems for participants the people in charge of the study can be held liable.
  • Soldiers who, were exposed to levels of radiation during nuclear testing in the South Pacific Ocean, developed serious medical conditions, including cancer.
  • In some cases governments have had to set up compensation schemes for soldiers and civilians affected by radiation.
  • In times of war, there are occasions where life-saving new ideas have to be tried out and there is no time for testing and slow gradual development.
  • That is one reason why medical breakthroughs often happen during times of war.
  • In the past there have been instances where people were unknowing guinea pigs.
  • During WW2 at the Queen Victoria Hospital near East Grinstead, badly burnt pilots were subject to experimental practices which led to breakthroughs in the treatment of burns and plastic surgery.
  • The pilots who were treated there were known as the Guinea Pig Club and they still meet there once a year.
  • For these pilots and their doctors the risks were unknown, but the consequences of not trying to develop new treatments were very severe so it was worth taking the risk.
informed consent
Informed consent
  • The idea of informed consent seems crucial.
  • Being forced to undergo risky unproven techniques or procedures seems to go against the idea of individual liberty and freedom.
  • It goes against the idea that human beings have a dignity or worth which cannot be removed or ignored.
  • It is clear that when informed consent has been neglected it has resulted in some of the worst atrocities known to man.
top ten evil experiments
Top ten evil experiments











top ten evil experiments1
Top ten evil experiments











UNIT 731

informed consent1
Informed consent
  • The idea of the dignity of the human person is found in religious traditions where human beings are said to be sacred.
  • In philosophical traditions such as Kantian Ethics which gives human beings value above all other creatures – a value which has no price, even for the greater good, in utilitarian terms.
  • The NEW ETHIC of the 21st Century (Human Rights) champions the importance and value of the individual.
the need for testing
The need for testing
  • The ideas that procedures should be tested before becoming widely available is vital.
  • So the solution is to invite testers to give informed consent with the promise of further treatment and support if the test goes wrong.
  • Medical procedures and treatments need to be practised first, and established as safe by testing on human beings.
  • This is part of the responsibility that doctors and government regulatory authorities have to individual patients and the general public
informed consent2
Informed consent
  • If there are doubts about the integrity or safety of the medical system then there is a real danger to public health.
  • If members of the public cannot trust the treatments being suggested then they may do themselves more harm by not being treated or pursuing an unsafe treatment.
  • But ethics must be in control when we are testing to prevent Human Rights violations
more accurate
More accurate
  • Testing needs to be completed on Humans as it gives more accurate results than testing on animals.
  • It is possible to get feedback from the person being experimented on that again increases the reliability of the results.
security of mind
Security of mind
  • Testing on humans gives the general population the added advantage of peace of mind.
  • People feel safer knowing that products have been tested on humans as well as animals.
  • They are more likely to take the drug.
prevents disasters
Prevents disasters
  • Testing on humans can prevent disasters such as the issues with Thalidomide.
  • As well as saving people from deformities it could also save lives in the long run
informed consent3
Informed consent?
  • Can a person really given informed consent to testing on a drug that we do not know the side effects of?
  • Consider the case of the men above. It seems that they clearly would not have consented to the experiment.
  • What if it results in death? In British law you cannot consent to your own death!
unequal society
Unequal society
  • Payment for experimentation is essential to get people involved.
  • As a result it thrives in poverty stricken areas and for people who are in desperate situations.
  • It seems unfair that in order to survive a person should have to risk their life.
  • This creates an unequal society where the rich have a better quality of life.
abuse and slippery slope
Abuse and slippery slope
  • It is clearly open to abuse in desperate situations
  • War breeds a desperate need for advancement
  • It is clear the governments have and could again experiment on their people in order to make advancements
  • By allowing it, you are allowing a potential slippery slope.
  • Should prisoners convicted of serious crimes be required to undergo medical testing as part of giving something back to society?
  • What responsibilities do commercial pharmaceutical companies have to the wider community, doctors and patients?
  • How could it be argued that human testing:
    • Undermines human dignity?
    • Maintains human dignity?
  • Human experimentation is essential for the security of drugs.
  • Testers are liable if they cause injury
  • There have been some extreme cases of human rights violations when ethics has been sidelined
  • For
    • More accurate results
    • Security of mind
    • Prevents disasters
  • Against
    • Informed consent
    • Unequal society
    • Abuse and a Slippery slope
learning objective2
Learning objective
  • To know and understand the law regarding animal testing
  • To know and understand the arguments for and against animal testing




Animal rights







  • Statistics about animal experimentation
  • The use and history of animal experimentation
  • Arguments for:
    • Helps research
    • Animals do not matter as much as people
    • Ensures the safety of drugs
    • Similar results to humans
  • Arguments against:
    • Does not consider animal welfare
    • specieist
    • unreliable
    • Cost
    • Waste of life
animal testing


  • 2.73 million experiments in the 12 months of 2002
  • Total number of procedures rose by 4.2% on 2001
  • About 80% are for research and drug development
  • Safety testing accounts for most of the rest
Animal testing
  • The BBC figures are disputed by animal rights organisations who suggest they do not reflect the whole picture.
  • In the UK, new drugs must be tested on two different species of live mammal, one of which must be a large non-rodent.
  • However, UK law now insists that no animal experiments be conducted if there is a realistic alternative.
animal testing1
Animal testing
  • One side-effect of having a strict medical regime for the development of drugs is that animals are used for testing.
  • Human life is valued more highly than animal life.
  • The examples we have considered illustrate the dangers if a drug is not tested properly. (Thalidomide)
  • New treatments for new and existing conditions and diseases rely on animal testing.
animal testing2
Animal testing
  • The royal society has argued that virtually every medical achievement in the 20th century was possible because animals were used in some way.
  • For many scientists, animal testing and experimentation has been essential in the eradication of disease and alleviation of suffering which we all now depend upon, and it will continue to be essential.
animal testing3

Animal welfare has been important throughout history

Animal testing
  • The laws requiring animal testing and experimentation also require consideration of the animals wellbeing.
  • In Britain an early anti-vivisection movement helped to bring about the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. This provided some protection to research animals, preventing some major abuses and discouraging some experiments.
  • In 1906 a Royal Commission led to the appointment of full-time inspectors as well as a rule requiring the painless killing of animals who suffered severe, enduring pain.
  • Despite the improvements to animal experimentation legislation there is still a number of contentious issues over animal experimentation.
    • They still experience pain
    • Animals are unable to give consent
    • they are not given the same moral consideration
    • They are not treated as moral persons
    • They have far fewer rights than human beings
  • This becomes particularly contentious when the animals used in testing are primates such as monkeys or apes.
helps research
helps research
  • The major pro for animal testing is that it aids researchers in finding drugs and treatments to improve health and medicine.
  • Many medical treatments have been made possible by animal testing, including cancer and HIV drugs, insulin, antibiotics, vaccines and many more.
  • It is for this reason that animal testing is considered vital for improving human health and it is also why the scientific community and many members of the public support its use.
  • In fact, there are also individuals who are against animal testing for cosmetics but still support animal testing for medicine and the development of new drugs for disease.
animals do not matter as much as humans
Animals do not matter as much as humans

What about children, disable people or people who are unable to respond such as those in a coma?

  • Moral philosophers have debated the relative ethical importance of animals as compared to human beings.
  • On the one hand there are those who argue they simply do not have any moral significance, such as Michael A. Fox.
  • He held that we have no duty towards animals at all.
  • Defined members of the moral community as those who could make free rational decisions and were truly persons.
animals do not matter as much as humans1
Animals do not matter as much as humans

Defining personhood is notoriously difficult as several categories of humans do not always show these characteristics, such as newborn babies or those with serious mental disabilities, but we still think it is important to care for these people.

  • Fox eventually retracted his view but others have not.
  • Cohan only attributes rights to human beings.
  • Like Fox, Cohan thought that animals lacked the basic elements that made humans moral persons.
  • Humans are free rational creatures, able to engage with moral dilemmas.
  • Animals have not of these things
ensures the safety of drugs
Ensures the safety of drugs
  • Animal testing helps to ensure the safety of drugs and many other substances humans use or are exposed to regularly.
  • Drugs in particular can carry significant dangers with their use but animal testing allows researchers to initially gauge the safety of drugs prior to commencing trials on humans.
  • This means that human harm is reduced and human lives are saved - not simply from avoidance of the dangers of drugs but because the drugs themselves save lives as well as improve the quality of human life.
similar results as humans
Similar results as humans
  • Scientists typically use animals for testing purposes because they are considered similar to humans.
  • As such, researchers do recognise the limitations and differences but the testing is done on animals because they are thought to be the closest match and best one with regards to applying this data to humans.
to what extent can humans use animals
To what extent can humans use animals?

Regan: Imagine five survivors are on a lifeboat. Because of limits of size, the boat can only support four. All weigh approximately the same and would take approximately the same amount of space. Four of the five are normal adult human beings. The fifth is a dog. One should be thrown overboard or else all will perish. Whom should it be?

  • Tom Regan’s classic example of the survivors in the lifeboat shows a midway position.
  • He still objects to thinking about animals in terms of things to be used for our pleasure as they have their own lives, even if such lives are different and more limited than ours, although he concedes that ultimately humans are more important.
  • Animals thus have some moral weighting but not quite as much as humans, while Cohan rejects any moral consideration of animals.
does not consider animal welfare
Does not consider animal welfare
  • David Degrazia 2002 writes about cat sex experiments carried out for 17 years, beginning in 1960, by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
  • These experiments involved the mutilation of cats in various ways including the removal of parts of their brains and destroying senses of smell or touch by cutting nerves in their sex organs.
  • The scientists then evaluated the cats’ sexual performance.
does not consider animal welfare1
Does not consider animal welfare
  • This work was funded by the US Government but, Degrazia writes, how this work might have benefited any human being was difficult to fathom.
  • The very idea that it should have led to benefit was queried by the museum’s director.
  • Thomas Nicholson, who felt the freedom to experiment was enough.
  • He argued the search for knowledge should never be constrained by concerns for animal well-being.
  • Few of the articles published as a result of these experiments were ever cited in other research.
does not consider animal welfare2
Does not consider animal welfare
  • Other experiments were carried out on monkeys seem equally questionable.
  • Infant monkeys were deprived of their mothers at birth and observed to see what would happen.
  • This often produced abnormal behaviour such as self clasping, rocking and convulsive jerking. (similar experiments were conducted on human babies by the Nazis)
  • However, in this case the findings were significant.
does not consider animal welfare3
Does not consider animal welfare
  • This research led to conclusions that separation from mothers at birth had profoundly negative effects and while this may seem blindingly obvious to us now, it is worth remembering that little more than 30 years ago in Britain, newborn babies were separated from the mothers soon after birth and placed in rooms with all the other newborn babies, only to brought out to their mothers for feeding.
  • The ethical challenge here is how could conclusions be reached without testing on animals?
waste of life
Waste of life
  • In animal testing, countless animals are experimented on and then killed after their use.
  • Others are injured and will still live the remainder of their lives in captivity.
  • The unfortunate aspect is that many of these animals received tests for substances that will never actually see approval or public consumption and use.
  • It is this aspect of animal testing that many view as a major negative against the practice. This aspect seems to show the idea that the animal died in vain because no direct benefit to humans occurred from the animal testing.

If we are willing to conduct experiments on animals we should be willing to do so on humans. These experiments cause pain and we are happy to cause such pain for food, clothes and experimentation in the case of animals. If we are to be consistent and fair we should do the same to humans or not at all.

  • Singer takes a stronger position with his argument.
  • He claims all suffering should be given moral significance, even equality, irrespective of the creature that suffers.
  • Treating human suffering as important while at the same time disregarding animal suffering is imply ‘speciesist’, a form of racism.
  • It is this kind of moral inequality which justified the slave trade and vindicates the poor treatment of women or foreigners or anyone else who seems a bit different.
  • Another con on the issue of animal testing is the sheer cost.
  • Animal testing generally costs an enormous amount of money. Animals must be fed, housed, cared for and treated with drugs or a similar experimental substance.
  • The controlled environment is important but it comes with a high cost.
  • On top of that, animal testing may occur more than once and over the course of months, which means that additional costs are incurred.
  • The price of animals themselves must also be factored into the equation. There are companies who breed animals specifically for testing and animals can be purchased through them.
  • the reaction of a drug in an animal's body is quite different from the reaction in a human.
  • some believe animal testing is unreliable.
  • Following on that criticism is the premise that because animals are in an unnatural environment, they will be under stress.
  • Therefore, they won't react to the drugs in the same way compared to their potential reaction in a natural environment. This argument further weakens the validity of animal experimentation.
in balance
In balance
  • The current climate for animal experimentation requires that some benefit might come from experimentation.
  • It may lead to no significant knowledge at all, but that can only be discovered for certain after trying and, historically, advances have been made on the basis of animal experimentation.
  • Degrazia notes that animal testing receives much greater public criticism than factory farming, though morally the potential to do good from medical advances might be stronger than having cheap food.
in balance1
In balance
  • Arguments remain about the benefits of animal experimentation.
  • On the one hand advocates suggest that animal studies have helped the development of countless new therapies and techniques.
  • Progress has been made in areas such as Alzheimer's, AIDS, cancer, haemophilia, malaria, organ transplantation etc.
  • Animal medicines and treatments have also been developed.
in balance2
In balance
  • Humans are not the same as other animals. It is difficult to judge the likelihood of potential developments. This is an unquantifiable moral variable which complicates the issues:
    • Are harmful means justified by good ends? Is the suffering of animals justified by the good that comes from the discoveries made by study of that suffering?
    • What moral significance should be given to animals? Do any animals have similar status to human beings? Can animals be used for some human benefits?
in balance3
In balance

The same argument was used for the slave trade, the abolishment of anti discriminatory laws and other morally suspect actions of humans.

It is only when these conflicting moral issues were outlawed did we really make progress.

  • Advocates of testing can point to previous examples of developments which have needed such experimentation, but that is only because such experimentation was allowed.
  • The difficulty we have in evaluating these moral arguments is that we live in a world where experimentation is permitted; we can only imagine the opposite.
  • It is hard to make a decision one way or the other with that uncertainty in mind.
  • Are harmful means justified by good ends?
  • What moral significance should be given to animals and are some animals more morally significant than others? If so on what basis?
  • ‘Animal testing is nasty but necessary.’ Discuss
  • The public are outraged by medical science when it experiments on animals but are happy to buy cheap food from factory farms where animals are treated with cruelty. They are hypocritical. Discuss
examiners tip
Examiners tip
  • Animal experimentation is not the same as animal welfare, vegetarianism or the hunting debate.
  • It might be that you are passionate about these issues and that you can make them fit into the answer in the exam, but be careful that you are still answering the question set and not one that you would prefer to answer.
  • Statistics about animal experimentation
  • The use and history of animal experimentation
  • Arguments for:
    • Helps research
    • Animals do not matter as much as people
    • Ensures the safety of drugs
    • Similar results to humans
  • Arguments against:
    • Does not consider animal welfare
    • specieist
    • unreliable
    • Cost
    • Waste of life
learning objective3
Learning objective
  • To know and understand what embryo experimentation is.
  • To know and understandthe arguments for and against embryonic testing


Embryo experimentation


Degenerative disease


Singer - utilitarianism

Richard Doerflinger

  • Legal limits on embryo research
  • Develops as a result of embryo research
  • Arguments for:
    • The embryo as a potential person
    • The human embryo is no different than sperm or eggs
  • Arguments against:
    • The human embryo has clear features that indicate it is an individual being
    • How we treat imperfect embryos will reflect how we treat imperfect born humans
embryo experimentation
Embryo experimentation
  • Embryo experimentation is the use of human embryos for medical testing purposes.
  • These embryos the bi-product of IVF have been donated by people who have no use for them anymore.
  • Embryos are not fertilised specifically for testing.
  • Legally they can only be used before they are 14 days old.
embryo experimentation1
Embryo experimentation
  • A general starting point for an ethical discussion about embryo research is that the law says “you should not use embryos for research unless there is a good reason to do so”. Two possible reasons are:
  • Animals because of the distinct difference genetic between animals and humans are not completely suitable subject for medical testing.
  • An animal experiences pain, whereas an embryo does not.
embryo experimentation2
Embryo experimentation

Embryo experimentation

A term that can cause confusion. For the sake of this topic, what is being referred to is experimentation on the entity which exists up to the appearance of the primitive streak, at about 14 days. Sometimes this phase is called the


  • When considering the ethical question we can also ask about the nature of the research being undertaken.
  • It is often difficult for all outcomes to be known at the outset of research.
  • You do not know what you are going to find until you have done the research.
  • It is argued that embryo experimentation has the potential to find cures for serious illnesses by using tissue or cells from embryos.
  • It is possible that such work might help with the treatment of those with Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, diabetes and Parkinson's disease
what is alzheimer s disease
What is Alzheimer's disease?
  • Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting around 417,000 people in the UK. The term 'dementia' is used to describe the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions. This factsheet outlines the symptoms and risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, and describes what treatments are currently available.
  • Alzheimer's disease, first described by the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, is a physical disease affecting the brain. During the course of the disease, 'plaques' and 'tangles' develop in the structure of the brain, leading to the death of brain cells. People with Alzheimer's also have a shortage of some important chemicals in their brains. These chemicals are involved with the transmission of messages within the brain.
  • Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, which means that gradually, over time, more parts of the brain are damaged. As this happens, the symptoms become more severe.
what is huntington s disease
What is huntington’sdisease?
  • Huntington's disease (also referred to in more formal medical research as Huntington Disease) is an hereditary neurological disorder of the central nervous system that causes progressive degeneration of cells in the brain, slowly impairing a person's ability to walk, think, talk and reason.
  • It is caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4. This leads to damage of the nerve cells in areas of the brain including the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex, and to the gradual onset of physical, mental and emotional changes.
  • between 6,500 and 8,000 people in the UK have the disease.
  • by the time symptoms appear, the person has often had a family and may have passed on the gene to their children.
what is parkinson s disease
What is parkinson’sdisease?
  • Parkinson's is a degenerative disease of the brain that affects the nerve cells involved in movement.
  • Parkinson's is caused by the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, an important neurotransmitter (a chemical that carries signals between the neurons in the brain), which enables us to perform smooth, coordinated movements.
  • A person with Parkinson's will only develop symptoms once around 80 per cent of these cells are lost, so they may have had the condition for some time before problems come to attention
  • Beginning an activity may be difficult as the person affected is rigid and slow to get going. But once started people with Parkinson's speed up and move too fast, ending up almost running or out of control.
embryo experimentation3

Degenerative disease: illness that is characterised by progressive deterioration.

Embryo experimentation
  • The potential to cure degenerative disorders has led to increasing pressure to extend what is permissible in embryo research and experimentation.
  • IVF itself is underpinned by such research and would not be possible without it.
  • Recently, politicians in the UK voted to extend the research done on human embryos to allow stem cells to be taken from embryos at a very early stage of development, in the hope that this may lead to radical improvements in the treatment of a number of degenerative diseases.

IVF: in-vitro fertilisation

legal limits
Legal limits

primitive streak:

The thickening in the surface of the embryo. It results in the first stages of embryonic development.

  • There are legal limits on embryo experimentation. A number of practices are prohibited in the UK. You cannot:
    • Keep an embryo past the primitive streak at 14 days
    • Place a human embryo in an animal
    • Replace the nucleus of a cell of an embryo with another person (human cloning)
    • Alter the genetic structure of any cell while it forms part of an embryo (human genetic engineering)
recent developments
Recent developments

Cybrid embryo:

A human-animal embryo.

Embryonic stem cells:

a primitive kind of cell which goes on to develop into any of the cells in the body.

  • Two recent developments have brought embryo research into the public arena again: firstly the development of stem cell research and secondly the development of human-animal cybrid embryos.
  • Embryonic stem cells are thought by scientists to be particularly valuable because of their regenerative and indeed generative capacity.
  • In 2005, embryonic stem cells were used to heal broken spines in rats (Medical News Today, 2005)
recent developments1
Recent developments
  • Research in 2007 has indicated that it may be possible to reverse age-related muscle degeneration which has caused 14 million people in Europe to become blind.
  • Scientists believe that within five years a treatment will have been developed to cure these people of their blindness.(metro, 2007)
  • Scientists believe that in relatively short period of time embryonic stem cell research is already showing benefits that could soon provide important treatments for many people who are currently suffering.
recent developments2
Recent developments
  • While it is sometimes claiming that adult stem cells may provide cures, thus avoiding the need to use human embryos (adult stem cells can be extracted without harming the adult person), many scientists believe that they will not offer such solutions.
  • A bill passing through parliament in May 2008 supported the creation of human-animal cybrid embryos.
  • This involved the insertion of a nucleus of a human cell inside a hollowed-out cow ovum.
  • Scientists again believe that through a better understanding of the development of embryos at the molecular level new treatments for degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and motor neurone diseases will be developed.
  • The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) grants licences for embryo research only if:
  • ‘it is satisfied that the use of human embryos is necessary or desirable for the purposes of the research and may only be allowed for one of the following purposes:
    • To promote advances in the treatment infertility.
    • To increase knowledge about the causes of congenital disease
    • To increase knowledge about the cause of miscarriages
    • To develop more effective techniques of contraception.
    • To develop methods for detecting the presence of gene of chromosome abnormalities.
  • List the purposes given on the previous slide in order of importance in your view, and decide which if any make a more convincing case for embryo research.
  • Justify your conclusions.
the embryo is not a person
The embryo is not a person
  • The argument in favour of embryo research is that before the primitive streak an embryo is NOT THE SAME AS A PERSON.
  • It has value but not the same as an older entity.
  • At 14 days the embryo has no features we would expect in a human.
  • The embryo has no consciousness and no nervous system.
the embryo is not a person1
The embryo is not a person

The British Humanist Association agrees:

At the early stage, an embryo has few of the characteristics we associate with a person. It is a fertilized human egg, with the capacity to develop into a person , but its cells have not yet begun to form into specialist cells that would form particular parts of the body. There is no brain, no self-awareness, no way of feeling pain or emotion, so an early stage embryo cannot suffer.

  • Peter Singer writes that it is possible to argue that up to 14 days after fertilisation an embryo (as opposed to a foetus) is not a human being.
  • Before 14 days we cannot be sure if the embryo is going to split therefore we cannot be sure if it is going to be one entity of two.
the embryo is not a person2

What type of argument is this?

The embryo is not a person
  • Its use is justified because of a need, possibly to undertake experimentation which cannot be carried out on animal embryos, and more often with a view to making discoveries which will bring about treatments for people who are suffering from terrible diseases and other conditions.
  • It is the combination of these two ethical principles which underpin embryo experimentation: that the entity has no value as a human before it has the primitive streak, and the benefits of the science, OUTWEIGH the ethical concerns
no different than sperm eggs
No different than sperm/eggs
  • Singer also argues that recognising an embryo as a human being is equivalent to including sperm and eggs.
  • They too could be seen as potential human beings, which simply require a human action for their potential to be realised.
  • He notes that once an embryo is isolated in the laboratory, it too requires human action for its potential to be realised and so he does not see that an embryo is very different from sperm or eggs.

The laboratory example:

He gives an example of a laboratory assistant who tips some sperm and an egg down a sink and then notices later that the sink is blocked. According to those who argue from the position of potential to two may well have formed an embryo so it is wrong to clear the blockage.

no different than sperm eggs1
No different than sperm/eggs
  • Even if the embryo or foetus does not have full human rights, it may have some rights. If it feels pain, then it has an interest in not feeling pain. (Singer 1993)
  • But our knowledge of the activity of the brain in the early embryo and foetus is incomplete – which might, for some, be enough to apply a precautionary rule based on the chance that pain might be caused which we cannot detect.

If the entity were to feel pain, then its feelings should be taken into consideration.

However, because it has no conscious awareness of pain it is morally permissible to conduct research on embryos.

There is less pain caused then testing on animals!

the embryo has features that indicate it is an individual
The embryo has features that indicate it is an individual

Others reject the devaluing of the entity prior to 14 days. They note that even by day 7 there are observable features of humanity

  • the formation of the embryonic disk, and within that disk the epiblast, at about day seven, is a differentiation at least equally significant (as that occurring at about day 14).
  • Indeed the inner cell mass has differentiated from other parts of the embryo by about day 5, and functional differentiation of the cells in the embryo begins even earlier...
  • The fact that some days elapse before one can identify which cells will become placenta and which ‘embryo proper’ in no way justifies any claim that during those days there is something other than an individual, self-developing human organism, fully continuous with – the very same individual being as – the adult human organism.
the embryo has features that indicate it is an individual1
The embryo has features that indicate it is an individual
  • Christian absolutists who argue for full rights from the point of conception do not believe that uncertainty about whether it is one or two beings is sufficient to merit the withdrawal of rights from the embryo.
  • Biblical texts such as: Jeremiah 1:5, Galatians 1:15, Ephesians 1:4, Psalms 139 are often quoted to argue that our existence is ordained by God.
  • Any interruption in the process of life interrupts God’s plan for life and undermines the idea that God’s image is reflected in each human being. (genesis 1:27)

Genesis 4:1

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.

Job 31:15

Did not God make him as well as me? did he not give us life in our mothers' bodies?

Psalms 139

1 O LORD, you have searched me        and you know me.  2 You know when I sit and when I rise;        you perceive my thoughts from afar.

13 For you created my inmost being;        you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;        your works are wonderful,        I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you        when I was made in the secret place.        When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Genesis 1:2727 So God created man in his own image,        in the image of God he created him;        male and female he created them.

Jeremiah 1:5

Before you were formed in the body of your mother I had knowledge of you, and before your birth I made you holy; I have given you the work of being a prophet to the nations

Ephesians 1:4

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

it is a person
It is a person!
  • Because the entity is a continuous life form with the human it will become and the entity that was fused with a soul at conception, it is a person.
  • Because it is a person, termination or experimentation on the entity is the same ethical principle as murder or experimentation on a full grown human being.
  • It therefore, violates the sanctity of life and is morally unacceptable.

Usually a Catholic argument but does include most right-wing Christian groups

totalitarian society
Totalitarian society
  • Doerflinger argues that we are heading towards a totalitarian society
  • This desire for genetic perfection will lead us to disastrous circumstances.
  • if we destroy embryos with genetic defects why not destroy humans with genetic defects?
  • We can justify anything in the name of the “greater good”
totalitarian society1
Totalitarian society
  • “That way lies the moral approach of a totalitarian society, that thinks it can use and abuse individual human beings in accordance with some grand scheme promising ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’... If, as modern embryology tells us... [genetically defective embryos] are indeed part of the continuum of human life, then the notion that genetic flaws enable us to destroy the ‘imperfect’ embryos has implications for the equal dignity of human beings after birth as well.”
  • There are number of concerns over the use of embryos in research.
  • Should they be used to help people with degenerative diseases that harm many people?
  • Does this turn human embryos into a commodity for the greater good of born humans?
  • Should embryos have unique untouchable status irrespective of any benefit that they might give to others through experimentation?
  • The debate over PERSONHOODis an important concept in this discussion, as it is with abortion, and ultimately the view on when an embryo gains rights will heavily influence the ethical position that we take on embryo research.
  • Concerns about the use of one human being for another human being may come from the Kantian principle of treating all people as ends in themselves, a human rights ethic, or a natural law principle to preserve and protect innocent human life.
  • It is conceivable to incorporate a utilitarian perspective into the natural law principle of life preservation, so that very many future lives are protected at the cost of a few lives now, although this would go against traditional formulations of natural law theory.
  • Advocates of embryo research will justify their position on utilitarian grounds, claiming that the betterment of the quality and quantity of human life outweighs the cost of using embryos, which they are likely to consider as human beings.
  • List the purposes under which the HFEA will grant a license for embryo research in order of importance in your view.
  • Decide which if any make a more convincing case for embryo research.
  • Justify your conclusions.
  • Use the internet to search for recent reports of medical advances as a result of the use of embryonic stem cell research and adult stem cell research.

You should EXPLAIN the main points of view.

Make sure you show an understanding of the diversity of belief and reasons for diversity.

Make sure you explain each point fully, developing it with evidence and linking the paragraphs together to create a full picture of the different points of view.

  • Examine the ethical issues which arise from animal and human experimentation.
  • 30 marks
  • Use the reading pack to help you.
  • Legal limits on embryo research
  • Develops as a result of embryo research
  • Arguments for:
    • The embryo as a potential person
    • The human embryo is no different than sperm or eggs
  • Arguments against:
    • The human embryo has clear features that indicate it is an individual being
    • How we treat imperfect embryos will reflect how we treat imperfect born humans
learning objective4
Learning objective
  • To consider the ethical concern over new inventions
  • To consider if science should control ethics or should ethics control science



Unregulated environment



  • As well as science ethics needs to control the development of technologies.
  • Despite the benefit of technologies we have seen the destructive power of them.
  • Once a technology exists somebody will use it.
  • If we can’t uninvent an idea then we should regulate their use.
  • Again, ethics must be in control if we are to avoid undesirable consequences.
ethical controls
Ethical controls
  • Whether we will acquire the understanding and wisdom necessary to come to grips with the scientific revelations of the 20th century will be the most profound.
  • Carl Sagan
  • Human beings have invented and developed extraordinary technologies but they have also demonstrated that they can put such technology to horrific uses.
  • The development of Zyclone B gas was to make extermination of the Jews more efficient.
  • After learning how to split the atom we turned it into a bomb and dropped it on people.
  • Once a technology becomes theoretically possible we will it would seem that human beings inevitably develop and use the technology.
  • Once it became possible to carry out embryo research, such research began.
can a scientific discovery be undiscovered
Can a scientific discovery be ‘undiscovered’?
  • It could be argued that once we can clone human beings, someone somewhere in the world will clone them.
  • Once a thing becomes possible it is done.
  • Atom bombs, genetic engineering, embryo research, cloning, etc.
  • Opponents of new technologies argue that they should be abandoned.
  • So for instance, all nuclear weapons should be dismantled or cloning prohibited.
can a scientific discovery be undiscovered1
Can a scientific discovery be ‘undiscovered’?
  • However, once knowledge exists, perhaps human beings will always find a way of testing it out.
  • Arguably, the only difference is that the benefits of the technological developments will be privately owned by the company which developed them and not as available to the scientific community in more regulated countries.
  • In fact they may be misused as they will have been developed in an unregulated environment.
can a scientific discovery be undiscovered2
Can a scientific discovery be ‘undiscovered’?
  • As in the case of nuclear weapons, it has been argued that once invented a country should try to acquire them in order to protect itself from other countries which already have them
  • They cannot be uninvented
  • Even if every country destroyed their nuclear weapons, the knowledge would still exist for a rich terrorists to build one and then hold the world to ransom.
  • Arguably it is better that new technologies are controlled in a regulated environment agreed by the international community.
can a scientific discovery be undiscovered3
Can a scientific discovery be ‘undiscovered’?
  • Perhaps millionaires will be able to go to some independent island for genetic improvement treatments, essentially giving technological benefits to the rich and powerful.
  • If this was to happen, there could be a divide between the ‘super haves’ and the ‘have nots’ as rich people evolved in new ways while poorer ones did not.
  • The dilemma facing governments is this: if they do not allow technological developments, will those developments simply become secret operations undertaken by the rich?
  • We can’t uninvent inventions
  • We should regulate the use and development of such technologies.
  • This way we can ensure that they are not misused.
  • What do you think?
  • Research what Christianity teaches about new inventions
  • Find five new technological advancements, explain and consider their ethical problems. They should not be similar in origin.
  • i.e. cloning and genetic engineering are too similar.
  • As well as science ethics needs to control the development of technologies.
  • Despite the benefit of technologies we have seen the destructive power of them.
  • Once a technology exists somebody will use it.
  • If we can’t uninvent an idea then we should regulate their use.
  • Again, ethics must be in control if we are to avoid undesirable consequences.
learning objective5
Learning objective
  • To know and understand the pressures facing scientific research
  • To know why it is important that scientists are liable for their work


Freedom of thought

Conflict of interests

Republic of science



  • There are a number of pressures facing scientists.
  • They must balance the pressures of business (money) and society (fear) with their ethical concerns.
  • Science should not bow to pressure and to stop this they must be responsible for the work they are carrying out.
  • It we do force them to bow to pressure we could be limiting freedom of thought and the chance of advancement.
  • Sometimes pressure comes because society does not understand the science and is scared of the technologies.
  • There is no bad science, just bad people who use it.
issues facing research
Issues facing research
  • Scientists face ethical decisions and pressures.
  • When conducting research it is possible for there to be a conflict of interests.
  • A researcher might have a financial interest in a particular company.
  • They might be funded to carry out research to show the particular benefits of a certain product.
  • It is essential that the science determines the result of the research and is not influenced by the generosity of the funding.
should science bow to pressure
Should science bow to pressure?
  • A bad researcher might have a harmful effect on the stock value of the company, but false research could endanger lives.
  • Research institutions have codes of conduct for conflict of interests
  • professionals, such as doctors, can be reprimanded by their professional organisations if they break the rules.
  • Publication and openness is an important ethical principle in scientific professional ethics.
should science bow to pressure1
Should science bow to pressure?
  • If negative results are hidden then the public standing of science is undermined.
  • How would any private funded research ever be trusted by the general public if only the positive reports were published?
  • Scientists may also be pressurised to produce results quickly because of the cost of research, which is often very high, and haste can lead to errors.
scientists should be responsible
  • Alvin Weinberg describes the ethical side of science in terms of being a citizen in the ‘republic of science’.
  • Of all the traits which qualify a scientist for citizenship in the ‘Republic of Science’. I would put a sense of responsibility at the very top. A scientist can be brilliant, imaginative, clever with his hands, profound, broad, narrow – but he is not much as a scientist unless he is responsible.
  • Weinberg
it limits freedom of thought and freedom of research
It limits freedom of thought and freedom of research
  • If a society exerts too much control over science then developments and discoveries may be lost.
  • In the past religious authorities have exerted pressure on scientists when their findings conflicted with truth as religion perceived it.
  • If I produce research which shows that my religion’s creation story is not scientifically true, am I going to cause instability and anxiety by disseminating my discoveries?
science is highly complex
Science is highlycomplex
  • Science is highly complex and may not be understood by the majority of people or an ill-educated public.
  • Scientists are often asked to say that a procedure or drug cannot do any harm.
  • Instead they say 99% because this is more like the truth.
  • People may react emotively to new technologies because they do not understand the uses.
science is highly complex1
Science is highlycomplex
  • Transplant surgery is an example of this – but it is an extremely important life-saving area of surgery.
  • It would be wrong to prevent certain developments due to this sort of squeamishness.
  • Is this right?
  • One of the challenges for science is that by definition, trying new things, so there is always a chance that the scientist will go further than the general public is willing to go.
  • Scientists have a responsibility to educate and inform and help the public understand new directions.
  • There must also be recognition by scientists that sometimes, even though we can do something, that does not mean that we should.
  • Research the history of cloning.
  • What are the main features of the science behind it.
  • How does it differ from genetic engineering?

You should EVALUATE the main points of view.

Give four arguments – two for and two against.

Make sure you explain each point fully, developing it with evidence and linking the paragraphs together to fully evaluate the point.

Include a person conclusion.

  • ‘Ethics has no part to play in the fields of science and technology.’
  • Consider how far you agree with this claim. Discuss
  • 20 marks
  • Use the reading pack to help you.
  • There are a number of pressures facing scientists.
  • They must balance the pressures of business (money) and society (fear) with their ethical concerns.
  • Science should not bow to pressure and to stop this they must be responsible for the work they are carrying out.
  • It we do force them to bow to pressure we could be limiting freedom of thought and the chance of advancement.
  • Sometimes pressure comes because society does not understand the science and is scared of the technologies.
  • There is no bad science, just bad people who use it.
learning objective6
Learning objective
  • To know and understand what the different types of cloning are




Stem cell


Would your clone have the same personality?

  • Cloning creates a genetically identical copy of a being.
  • Dolly the sheep was the first clone made from an adult cell.
  • There are two types of cloning
  • Therapeutic: cloning particular cells, cloning organs
  • Reproductive: cloning an individual as an alternative to IVF
what is cloning
What is cloning?
  • On February 1997, Ian Wilmot and his fellow scientists at the Roslin institute near Edinburgh announced to the world that they had cloned a lamb named Dolly.
  • Pictures of Dolly were on the front page of every newspaper in the world!
  • At the time there was a media frenzy, which quickly turned into panic.

Dolly died after 6 years. She had a life expectancy of 12 years. She died of lung cancer, which is common for a sheep that is kept indoors as she had been.

the reaction

These claims have since shown to be false

The reaction
  • There was an ethical outcry and many governments took action to prevent the technology being used to clone human beings,
  • In march 2001 an Italian doctor claimed that he was only months away from starting to clone babies for infertile couples.
  • There are a number of strong medical arguments in favour of the use of cloning technologies, as well as ethical and religious arguments against.
  • Understanding these arguments requires a basic understanding of the science behind it.
what is cloning1
What is cloning?
  • Cloning is the creation of an embryo using the genetic material from another being.
  • Cloning technologies uses embryos because they are a rich source of a special type of cell called a stem cell.
  • Stem cells can replicate themselves and generate more-specialised cell types as they multiply.
  • Stem cells from an embryo are much more versatile than those from an adult.
what is cloning2
What is cloning?
  • The procedure works by taking a fertilised ovum (an embryo) with its stem cells, removing the genetic contents of that ovum and replacing them with the genes from another animal.
  • You could take an ovum that has been fertilised by male A and female B.
  • You would then replace the newly created genetic material (combining the elements from male A and female B) in that ovum with the genetic material from male C.
  • The result would be a genetic copy of male C.
what is cloning3
What is cloning?

Remove genetic content


Genetic copy of person C

Add new genetic material from person C


types of cloning
Types of cloning
  • There are two different types of cloning.
  • THERAPEUTIC CLONING: cloning for medical purposes. Creating genetically identical organs, genetically identical stem cells for gene therapy and treatment for degenerative diseases.
  • REPRODUCTIVE CLONING: cloning a full human being in order to solve reproductive problems for individuals.
therapeutic cloning
Therapeutic cloning
  • Medical benefits are:
  • treatment for degenerative diseases. The human body’s specialised cells cannot be replaced by natural processes. Medical conditions that seriously damage them or leave them diseased – such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease – are particularly difficult to treat.
  • There is an acute shortage of donated healthy organs, and cloning technology could be used to grow the required cell tissue using stem cells.
therapeutic cloning1
Therapeutic cloning
  • In the long term there could be considerable potential for the use of tissues derived from stem cells in the treatment of a wide range of disorders by replacing cells that have become damaged or diseased. Examples might include the use of insulin-secreting cells for diabetes; nerve cells in stroke or Parkinson’s, disease or liver cells to repair a damaged organ...
  • in addition to this potential to develop tissue for use in the repair of failing organs, or for the replacement of diseased or damaged tissues, the technique of cell nuclear replacement might be applied to treat some rare but serious inherited disorders. Repairing a woman’s eggs (oocytes) by this technique gives rise to the possibility of having a woman with mitochondrial damage to give birth to a healthy child which inherits her genes together with those of her partner.
  • Department of Health 2000
therapeutic cloning2
Therapeutic cloning

Research is being undertaken

  • The possible benefits have been used by scientists to encourage the British government to permit research into therapeutic cloning using embryo stem cells, and in 2004 the HFEA issued the first licence to do so.
  • The permit is given with a particular focus on increasing understanding and developing treatments for mitochondrial diseases and it involved stem cells derived from embryonic sources.
therapeutic cloning3
Therapeutic cloning

Therapeutic cloning produces stem cells that can develop into different types of body cell.

Nucleus removed

Stem cells harvested from embryo cell

Cell retained

Fertilised ovum

(egg cell)

Cloned cell induced to form embryo

Nucleus inserted into egg cell

Different possible applications including treatment of patients with genetic disorders

Body cell

reproductive cloning
Reproductive cloning
  • Cloning could also be used to create a complete human being.
  • This would benefit those who cannot reproduce naturally, and for whom IVF does not work.
  • It is also of benefit to homosexual couples who can clone themselves and raise the clone as a child.
  • Read the following extract:
  • Step forward to a dinner party in 2025. your hostess warns you that the tomatoes are the new cholesterol reducing ones. Your host grumbles as he eats only organic food. Your gay neighbour tells you how his clone (should you think of it as his son or brother?) is doing at school.
  • Somebody mentions the amount the Smiths have paid to make sure their next daughter has blue eyes. Would not it have been better spent on making her musical?
  • Somebody jokes about the couple who could have had a Margaret Thatcher clone but instead chose a Bill Clinton.
  • On the drive back, the headlines are about attempts to raise the retirement age to 95.
  • Identify the different moral issues raised by this extract.
  • Is genetic engineering ‘playing at God’ or is it exercising morally valid scientific freedom? Why?
  • Should cloning technologies be used to determine features of our children? Why?
  • Should the technology be used to help infertile couples? Why?
  • Would you be happy to have a clone made from your genes? Why?
  • Would you be happy knowing that you were the clone of a parent?
ethical concerns
Ethical concerns
  • There are a number of ethical concerns about cloning.
  • These concerns are both religious and non-religious.
  • Can cause abnormalities
  • Limits genetic diversity
  • Violates the sanctity of life
  • Could create social inequalities
  • Cloning creates a genetically identical copy of a being.
  • Dolly the sheep was the first clone made from an adult cell.
  • There are two types of cloning
  • Therapeutic: cloning particular cells, cloning organs
  • Reproductive: cloning an individual as an alternative to IVF
learning objective7
Learning objective
  • To know and understand the arguments for and against cloning


Ethical gradualism




Gregory E Pense

Leon Kass



  • Limits genetic diversity
  • Could create an unequal society
  • Creates genetic abnormalities
  • Problems for crimes
  • Violates the sanctity of life
  • Could harm society
  • Turns reproduction into manufacturing


  • Helps cure diseases
  • Can’t feel pain
  • No new ethical problem
  • Worth the risk
limits genetic diversity
Limits genetic diversity
  • Cloning created identical genes.
  • It is a process of replicating a genetic constitution, thus hampering the diversity in genes.
  • While lessening the diversity in genes, we weaken our ability of adaptation.
  • The more clones we have in society the less diversity we have.
  • We could effectively halt the process of evolution!!!
social inequalities
Social inequalities
  • Therapeutic cloning when developed will be highly expensive. The cloning of organs will be particularly expensive.
  • These advantages in medical technology will therefore, only be available to the rich and as such creating a two tier society.
  • As well as this, is it ethical for the NHS to spend the billions it would on therapeutic cloning when cheaper treatments are available?
  • Will cloned organs be cost-effective?
  • Due to the inefficiency of animal cloning (only about 1 or 2 viable offspring for every 100 experiments) and the lack of understanding about reproductive cloning, many scientists and physicians strongly believe that it would be unethical to attempt to clone humans.
  • Not only do most attempts to clone mammals fail, about 30% of clones born alive are affected with "large-offspring syndrome" and other debilitating conditions. Several cloned animals have died prematurely from infections and other complications.
  • The same problems would be expected in human cloning.
  • In addition, scientists do not know how cloning could impact mental development.
  • While factors such as intellect and mood may not be as important for a cow or a mouse, they are crucial for the development of healthy humans.
  • With so many unknowns concerning reproductive cloning, the attempt to clone humans at this time is considered potentially dangerous and ethically irresponsible.
problems for crimes
Problems for crimes
  • Modern police work is now heavily reliant on DNA.
  • The security of this evidence is based on the individuality of DNA.
  • By cloning individuals we will decrease the reliability of this evidence as DNA will no longer but a unique feature of a person.
sanctity of life
Sanctity of life
  • Christians believe that life is sacred.
  • They believe there is something special or holy about human life. Every human, Christians believe, is special to God.
  • In order to create a clone, a number of embryos must be fertilised. The best is taken.
  • The others are discarded.
  • Humans are so from conception, therefore, cloning violates the Sanctity of Life.
cardinal winning
Cardinal Winning
  • Even thought the ‘end is good’ ‘the means are immoral’ as the creation of numerous embryos to aid implantation results in the death of ‘tiny cloned human beings’.
  • Former Roman Catholic leader of Scotland
dr michael jarmulowicz
Dr michaeljarmulowicz
  • It has always been accepted in British law that the earliest human embryo should be treated with respect and accorded a special status.
  • To use the human embryo for basic science research that has not yet been undertaken in animals would end the special status that embryos deserve.
  • Therapeutic cloning could become possible from adult cells in the future, which would save the lives of the embryos used in the research.
  • Also, if we start with therapeutic cloning, reproductive cloning will result.
cloning could harm society leon kass
Cloning could harm society: Leon Kass
  • It could have a harmful impact on human society, the family or the child.
  • This is a religious consequentialist argument.
  • Leon Kass sees the common repugnance that people express towards cloning as a revolt against the excess of human wilfulness and a warning not to do something that is profoundly unspeakable.
  • It is a sign that human nature no longer commands respect.
cloning could harm society leon kass1
Cloning could harm society: Leon Kass
  • Kass states:
  • Human cloning will harm the created child by threatening a confusion of identity and individuality because, ‘she is the work not of nature or nature’s God bur of man, an Englishman.
  • Because the cloned person will be in genotype and appearance identical to another human being, possibly a parent, the child will have a crisis of identity.
turns reproduction into manufacturing kass
Turns reproduction into manufacturing: kass
  • Human cloning represents a step towards turning reproduction into manufacturing: ‘if sex has no intrinsic connection to generating babies, babies nee have no necessary connection to sex.’ (Kass)
  • In natural sexual reproduction, each child has two complimentary biological progenitors.
  • Cloning turns begetting into making.
turns reproduction into manufacturing kass1
Turns reproduction into manufacturing: kass
  • Procreation becomes manufacture, which makes man another part of man-made things.
  • In natural procreation, human beings come together, complementarily male and female, to give existence to another being who is formed.
  • A cloned human being is a product of intention and design.
turns reproduction into manufacturing kass2
Turns reproduction into manufacturing: kass
  • Finally, Kass argues that cloning represents a form of despotism of the cloners over the cloned, and represents a blatant violation of the inner meaning parent-child relationships. A child stems from and unites two lineages.
  • The exact genetic constitution is decided by nature and chance, not human design.
  • He believes that these biological truths express truths about our identity and our human condition.
  • Reproduction that does not involve sex is not natural and rejects common family relations.
donald bruce
Donald bruce
  • Rejects not only human cloning but therapeutic cloning:
  • It is my view the creation and use of cloned embryos for procedures such as these should not be allowed... I believe we should stop in our tracks, and not continue to use embryos routinely for cell therapy.
donald bruce1
Donald Bruce
  • He argues that it is not consistent to allow an embryo to be created but then prevent it from coming to full term.
  • It is wrong to create an embryo as a resource for others.
  • It should be afforded dignity in itself.
  • Bruce also voices concern about ‘ethical gradualism’ – allowing far-reaching ethical processes by a series of small steps, the first of which is therapeutic cloning.
can help cure diseases
Can help cure diseases
  • We are at an impasse with regard to many degenerative disorders.
  • We need new technologies to help us save lives. Supporters of cloning argue principally for the use of medical research, on the basis that the results will bring such benefit as to merit the medical process that the embryos have to go through.
  • The overall benefits of cloning, the possible treatments that could be made available to sufferers of conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, far outweigh any objections to the use of embryos in experimentation and research.
helps those who cant conceive
helps those who cant conceive
  • One possible use of cloning is to help people who cannot conceive children.
  • They could use donor eggs and sperm in order to obtain the necessary embryonic stem cells and then replace the genetic imprint.
  • The resulting child would be a genetic copy of the mother.
  • Note that, normally, new life has a unique genetic imprint and is made up of elements from both the parents.
  • This is not the case in the this example.
it isn t harmful
It isn’t harmful
  • In his article “will cloning harm people?” Gregory E Pense states that human cloning would not be harmful as embryos cannot be harmed.
  • This is a utilitarian response.
  • While many embryos will be lost during reproductive cloning this does not cause any harm.
  • 40 per cent of human embryos fail to implant in normal sexual reproduction.
double standards
Double standards
  • The issue with cloning is one of double standards.
  • Thousands of embryos can be stored and many couples decline to pay fees for preserved embryos. So they are destroyed.
  • We are using double standards as we are morally concerned by the destruction of frozen embryos, while unconcerned with the loss of embryos as a result of failed implantations.
cant feel pain
Cant feel pain
  • In his view, embryos are not sentient and cannot experience pain.
  • They are not persons and so there is no objection to their use in cloning.
  • Pence believes that the objection to human cloning is an irrational fear of science and things that general public do not understand.
no new ethical problem
No new ethical problem
  • In ‘dolly’s fashion and Lois’s passion’ Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard Palaeontologist, argues that there are no new ethical questions raised by cloning.
  • He suggests that identical twins share more properties than Dolly did with her mother.
  • Conjoined twins differ in personalities and achievements, and so human cloning raises no new ethical questions.
no new ethical problem1
No new ethical problem
  • We know that identical twins are distinct individuals, albeit with peculiar and extensive similarities. We give them different names. They encounter divergent experiences and fates.
  • Their lives wander along disparate paths of the world’s complex vagaries.
  • They grow up as distinctive and undoubted individuals, yet they stand forth as far better clones than Dolly and her mother.
worth the risk
Worth the risk
  • In “Wrongful life, federalism, and procreative liberty,” the law professor John Robertson argues that the use of cloning for reproduction is entirely acceptable:
  • If a couple is willing to take the risk that embryos will not form or cleave, that they will not implant, that there will be a high risk of miscarriage, that the child will be born with some defect, and that they will then rear the child, it is hard to see why this is any worse than the other practices that could lead to physically-damaged offspring.
worth the risk1
Worth the risk
  • He sees reproductive cloning as another reproductive technology alongside IVF.
  • For some people, it is their only opportunity to have children.
  • As long as they are willing to look after the child regardless then there is no issue if the creation has massive abnormalities.
  • What links the Roman Catholic Church's criticism of human cloning with that of IVF, abortion and embryo research?
  • What other specifically religious reasons are there for opposing human cloning?
  • How might human cloning change our understanding of sex, and in your view, would this be a negative or a positive development?
  • What possible harms might human cloning cause to the individual?
  • What possible harm might human cloning cause to society?
  • How might it be argued that a clone raises no more ethical questions that an identical twin?
  • Outline the argument for a person’s right to clone.

You should EVALUATE the main points of view.

Give four arguments – two for and two against.

Make sure you explain each point fully, developing it with evidence and linking the paragraphs together to fully evaluate the point.

Include a person conclusion.

  • Cloning is morally repugnant.
  • Discuss
  • 20 marks
  • Use the reading pack to help you.


  • Limits genetic diversity
  • Could create an unequal society
  • Creates genetic abnormalities
  • Problems for crimes
  • Violates the sanctity of life
  • Could harm society
  • Turns reproduction into manufacturing


  • Helps cure diseases
  • Can’t feel pain
  • No new ethical problem
  • Worth the risk
learning objectives
Learning objectives
  • To know and understand the basis for human rights
  • To consider their importance as the new foundation for ethics


Human right

Self evident





  • What are some basic human rights?
  • History of human rights
  • Actual list of human rights
  • The justification of human rights
  • Their importance for today’s society


  • Human rights have a history that dates back to the Stoics’ in the 3rdC BCE
  • They believed in a universal moral law
  • This ‘moral law’ is what human conduct can be judged against
  • Our actions or judgements should be brought back into harmony with this moral law.

How old are human rights then?

magna carta
Magna carta
  • Later the Magna Carta (1215) put in place the idea ‘right’ was not just what the king did.
  • The Magna Carta is an English legal charter.
  • The Magna Carta required King John of England to; issue certain rights to freemen, respect legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law.
human rights
Human rights
  • In England, the Petition of Right 1628 and the Bill of Rights 1689 suggests the view that human beings are endowed with eternal and inalienable rights.
  • In the 17th C John Locke argued that Human individuals have certain rights including the right to life, liberty and property.
  • Throughout British history there has been a long tradition of trying to secure in law the rights of the individual.
  • Why?
human rights1

What does this mean?

Human rights
  • In America the Declaration of Independence, proclaimed by the 13 American Colonies on 4th July 1776, states that:
  • ‘we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
human rights2
Human rights
  • This was followed by the declarations of the Rights of Man (26th August 1789)
  • This was a fundamental document of the French revolution which establishes fundamental rights for French citizens and all men without exception,
  • It defines ‘liberty’ as including the right to free speech, freedom of association, religious freedom, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and confinement.
  • The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are entitled.
  • It sets out 30 rights which all humans are entitled by virtue of BEING HUMAN.
  • As a requirement of being part of the EU you must make the UDHR part of your own legal code.
human rights3
Human rights
  • Some of these principles are:
    • equality before the law
    • Protection from arbitrary arrest
    • The right to a fair trail
    • Freedom from ex post facto criminal laws
    • Freedom of thought
    • Freedom of conscience and religion
    • Freedom of opinion and expression
    • Freedom of peaceful assembly and association
human rights4
Human rights
  • The rights expressed in the UDHR take different forms.
  • Some generate duties that others have.
    • the right to have a loan repaid is a claim that generates a duty to repay the loan.
  • Other are powers that we might have in law
    • Such as the right to choose who will inherit your wealth after your death
  • Some are freedoms or liberties
    • such as not having to give evidence against your own spouse, or evidence that might prejudice your case in court.
  • Lastly, rights can be immunities or protections from certain actions
    • Violence from another individual, slavery or discrimination due to your political or religious views.
the justification
The justification
  • The challenge of a postmodern society, where everything is permitted, is to create an absolute basis of morality from which to make ethical decisions.
  • A person is given their rights based on one principle:
  • Being human
  • This is irrespective of age, gender, sex, race, sexuality, disability or any other prejudice possible.
their importance
Their importance
  • HR are the manner by which we can properly build a new ethic for the 21 Century.
    • They are binding on countries
    • Enforceable through the UN
    • View every human as equal
    • Give people the liberty they deserve and
    • Do not require any political or religious viewpoint
  • They simply are given to a person by virtue of them being human.
  • Research the Human Rights act.
  • Identify the five you think are the most important.
  • Explain why you think that they are the most important.
  • What are some basic human rights?
  • History of human rights
  • Actual list of human rights
  • The justification of human rights
  • Their importance for today’s society
learning objectives1
Learning objectives
  • To know how new technologies are challenging our basic Human Rights in Britain
  • To consider the advantages and disadvantages of these new technologies






How far can the state go without invading your privacy?

  • Article 8
  • Libertyand the 2000 report on surveillance
  • Targeted surveillance and communications data
  • Mass surveillance and databases
  • Visual surveillance and the big brother state
  • Cyber crime


  • Should have nothing to hide
  • Acts as a deterrent
  • Catches more criminals
  • Availability of goods


  • Article 8
  • Deterrents don’t work
  • Abuse of the system
  • Availability of goods
article 8
Article 8
  • 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
  • Liberty, founded in 1934, is a organisation at the heart of the movement for fundamental rights and freedoms in England and Wales. They promote the values of individual human dignity, equal treatment and fairness as the foundations of a democratic society. They seeks to protect civil liberties and promote human rights for everyone. Liberty campaigns to protect basic rights and freedoms through the courts, in Parliament and in the wider community. They do this through a combination of public campaigning, test case litigation, parliamentary lobbying, policy analysis and the provision of free advice and information.
article 81
Article 8
  • Article 8 offers general protection for a person’s private and family life, home and correspondence from arbitrary interference by the State.
  • This right affects a large number of areas of life ranging from surveillance to sexual identity - it is framed extremely broadly.
  • Respect for private life includes a right to develop one’s own personality, as well as to create relationships with others.
  • Article 8 has been critical in providing basic protection for the rights of homosexual and transsexual people.
  • Privacy however, is not absolute
  • This is because proportionate and lawful intrusion is necessary for things like child protection, tax collection and public safety.
  • The government reserve the right to invade your privacy for a number of reasons.
  • Most importantly IF you doing something illegal in your private life the HR act does not protect you.
the result
  • The problem is that as technology advances it becomes easier and easier to keep tabs on people.
  • In a bid to reduce crime the government has allowed the expansion of CCTV networks, databases and other technologies.
  • BUT, Privacy is a fundamental human right. It allows us the opportunity to express ourselves and exercise our important freedoms
  • The more these technologies develop the more they will impact on our human rights.
  • How far should we allow them to go for safety?

In response to this issue Liberty issued a recent report in which Gareth Grossman writes:

A society which does not pay sufficient regard to personal privacy is one where dignity, intimacy, and trust are fatally undermined.

What is family life without a little bit of personal space around the home?

How do you protect people from degrading treatment (whether in hospital, prison or the home) without paying regard to their privacy?

How are fair trials possible without confidential legal advice or free elections without secret ballots? Equally, whilst free speech, law enforcement and public health are often seen in tension with personal privacy, think of anonymous sources, vulnerable witnesses and terrified patients who may be more likely to seek help if their confidences are safe and perceived to be so.

the report
The report
  • The report explores three different kinds of surveillance:
  • Targeted
  • mass
  • visual
  • State sanctioned surveillance against specific targets was created under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
  • The report concludes that although the basic structure is sound it lacks accountability and transparency.
  • In particular, there is a need for judicial authorisation for the most intrusive forms of surveillance and an improved complaints mechanism.
targeted surveillance
Targeted surveillance
  • The report concludes that surveillance takes place on a massive scale that nearly 440,000 authorizations for communications traffic data took place between June 2005 and March 2006.
  • Communications traffic is data, such as phone taps, email checking, mobile phone location and call records.
  • Is this too many? Liberty want a judge to authorise these like warrants.
mass surveillance
Mass surveillance
  • Mass surveillance has come about through the huge ‘growth and impact of mass databases’
  • It is becoming easier to trace and track huge numbers of people, searching for evidence of illegal activity among huge innocent populations.
  • CCTV cameras with facial recognition software and number-plate reading software can store movements of civilian population so that simple searches can produce detailed monitoring of ordinary members of the public.
  • Is it acceptable that such data on our movements is stored and accessible by government agencies as a matter of routine?
visual surveillance
Visual surveillance
  • Visual surveillance is the ‘daily exposure to mass CCTV surveillance’.
  • In the UK there are 4.2 million cameras in operation.
  • We are the most observed nation in the WHOLE WORLD
  • CCTV can be used for crime detection but its effectiveness in crime prevention is unknown.
  • Our data is found on all sorts of databases
    • Doctors surgeries
    • Schools
    • Hospitals
    • Tax authorities
    • banks and credit card companies
  • loyalty-card schemes exist to gather enormous amounts of data on buyers and work out what sorts of things they should sell
  • This data reveals valuable information about us which may be used to
    • help teachers plan our next lessons
    • help doctors understand our medical history and better treat us, and give the government some idea who is paying their taxes and who is not.
  • On the internet some websites place ‘cookies’ on our hard drive which monitor where we go after that site.
  • They store information about us so when we return, that data is transferred back to the website that dropped the cookie.
  • It can help retailers to learn about their customers so they can market their products more effectively and produce new products that will appeal to their shoppers. That information is valuable.

If you are innocent, you have nothing to hide.

  • Some argue that their should be a national database.
  • a complete record of our DNA would enable police and other public authorities to conduct searches of the data, perhaps finding and convicting criminals who are currently free to commit crimes against members of the public.
  • Currently the UK database has an estimated 3.9 million samples.
  • It is the largest of its kind in the world because under the current law, DNA can be taken and retained following arrest for any recordable offence.
the problem databases
The problem: databases
  • There is a disproportionate racial representation on the database.
  • nearly 40% of black men are on it, 13% of Asian men and 9% of white men.
  • DNA is useful for sexual assault or other violent crimes, but should innocent members of the public have their DNA on the database just in case they might commit a crime in future?
  • One official has argued it might be useful if disobedient primary school children were required to give their DNA as they are more likely to commit violent crimes in future so could be caught more easily. (Grossman)

Thinking point!

cyber crime
Cyber crime
  • With the increasing amount of data stored in databases online, people buying over the internet and banking on the internet, there are serious ethical concerns about growing cyber crime.
  • This included selling your banking information, using spyware (software on your computer which monitors your activity and sends information such as passwords to another computer) and indentify theft.
cyber crime1
Cyber crime
  • With identity theft, your personal details are stolen, via the internet, from your computer or from websites and emails.
  • Other sorts of crime are also prevalent on the internet including child pornography and hate websites which target racial or religious groups and advocate or encourage violence towards those groups.
  • The internet is dependent on internet service providers connecting you to the world wide web and also an architecture of computer servers around the world.
people should have nothing to hide
People should have nothing to hide
  • If a person is innocent then they should have nothing to hide.
  • As long as you do nothing wrong then this database will not affect your life.
  • What have you got to hide?
acts as a deterrent
Acts as a deterrent
  • The increased likelihood of being caught plays on the mind of the potential criminal.
  • As a result they are less likely to commit the crime because they feel they are more likely to be caught.
  • The surveillance acts as to deter the criminal from committing the crime in the first place.
catch criminals easier
catch criminals easier
  • Having more information on the database will mean that the police will be able to catch criminals more easily.
  • They will have all peoples DNA and then will be able to match that up with the person when they catch them.
  • This is clear in number-plate recognition technology where cars are scanned on the road and they can be checked if they are stolen or if it should have been scrapped.
availability to goods
availability to goods
  • the more information an organisation has about you, the better they can deal with you.
  • A doctors surgery will be able to gather your medical details and the medical details of your family and suggest treatments or possible hereditary diseases that need to be addressed.
  • A company such as Tesco’s can pass you specific information which refers to your buying habits and help you get the products you want faster.
article 82
Article 8
  • Article 8 says that a person’s private and family life should be free from interference by the State.
  • This is a fine line and we should be aware of the pressure that the state will want to put on us.
  • How much information is too much interference?
    • Where you live?
    • What you buy?
    • What your read?
    • When you go to work?
    • What your DNA is?
acts as a deterrent1
Acts as a deterrent
  • Deterrents do not work.
  • People still commit violent crime in countries where the death penalty exists.
  • Despite the security cameras people still commit crime in city centres at night.
  • The solution is to solve the problems and motivations of crime not deter people because of punishment.
  • It simply does not work.
misuse of the system
Misuse of the system
  • The problem with the national database is the problem of misuse.
  • If we are concerned with the problem of cyber crime then surely we should be worried about the problem of storing the data of 60 million people in one central location.
  • In addition, these databases are maintained and inputted by HUMANS. They are subject to error and there is no guarantee that data will not be incorrectly inputted and as a result no guarantee about people being free from false convictions
availability to goods1
availability to goods
  • Why does Tesco need that much information?
  • Their motivations are profit based and not for the good of the community.
  • Profit is not a good basis for society. It is materialistic and not centred on the good for the individual.
  • Does doctors databases create a hypochondriac culture where everybody is scared of what is happening?

What do you think?

  • New technologies have many benefits for people, health, crime and the new society.
  • However, they do pose a threat to the security of a persons Human Rights.
  • We have to be vigilant in order to maintain a society where the individual is treated as such, their freedoms and liberties protected and they are not treated as a second class citizen.
  • “If you are innocent you have nothing to hide.” Discuss (20 marks)
  • To what extend should we be free to go about our affairs without surrveillance?
    • Give your own view and support it with recent evidence
  • How much is your privacy worth? Is it better to give up our DNA to a central database so that more criminals are caught?
    • Give your own view and support it with recent evidence
  • Recently a head teacher from a primary school contacted parents to inform them about the new fingerprint-based library system that the school wanted to introduce.The system scans students’ fingerprints when they take out or return books. The school allowed parents to opt their children out of the scheme (the children would get a card instead), but how will those children feel if all their friends go for the fingerprint scanner option instead? Is it unduly technophobic and old fashioned to be concerned, or is there something worrying going on here?

You should EVALUATE the main points of view.

Give four arguments – two for and two against.

Make sure you explain each point fully, developing it with evidence and linking the paragraphs together to fully evaluate the point.

Include a person conclusion.

  • If you are innocent then you have nothing to hide.
  • Discuss
  • 20 marks
  • Use the reading pack to help you.
  • Article 8
  • Libertyand the 2000 report on surveillance
  • Targeted surveillance and communications data
  • Mass surveillance and databases
  • Visual surveillance and the big brother state
  • Cyber crime


  • Should have nothing to hide
  • Acts as a deterrent
  • Catches more criminals
  • Availability of goods


  • Article 8
  • Deterrents don’t work
  • Abuse of the system
  • Availability of goods
examiners tip1
Examiners tip
  • Try to use contemporary examples where you can. Examiners will be impressed by current knowledge.
  • Read broadsheet newspapers or look on their online indexes for articles about embryo technology, the testing of new drugs, cloning and new surveillance technologies.
  • These are always areas of interest.
  • Not only will you have current information but these articles are also good sources of pithy quotations and arguments both ‘for’ and ‘against’.
learning objectives2
Learning objectives
  • To know and understand the relationship between Science and Religion.
  • To consider the role religion could play in control of science



Ends in themselves





  • Quotes about religion and science
  • Science and religion have been great partners
  • They have also been great opponents
  • Technological advancements have benefited religious organisations
  • But the worry over ethics is still there.
  • Religion champions individualism and the sanctity of life. As long as this is not opposed the two can be friends.
  • Religion has always had a regulatory history.
  • Current research is governed by ethical controls and government bodies which is responsible to the public.
  • Religion does not want to stop technological advancement but does have moral concerns.
  • Religious control however, has been shown to have negative effects on scientific advancement in Iran
  • Governments are accountable to the public, whereas religions are not.
  • As such, governments should be in control with religions offering their view.
einstein 1940
Einstein, 1940

A legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

appleyard 1992
Appleyard, 1992

It is...idle to pretend, as many do, that there is no contradiction between religion and science. Science contradicts religion as surely as Judaism contradicts Islam – they are absolutely and irresolvably conflicting views. Unless, that is, science is obliged to change its fundamental nature.

dyson science spirit website
Dyson, science spirit website

“Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows five different views, but both look out at the same universe. Both views are one-sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. And both are worthy of respect.”

his holiness john paul ii 1990
His holiness john paul ii, 1990

Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish...we need each other to be what we must be, what we are called to be.

szasz 1973
Szasz, 1973

When religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic.

religion and science in conflict
Religion and science in conflict
  • Religion and science have a troubled history. Richard Blackwell writes that throughout its long history Christianity has been involved in a love-hate relationship with science.
  • On the one hand there have been times when Christianity has engaged science with great warmth and benefit:
  • For example the synthesis between Aristotle’ science and Aquinas’ Christian theology
religion and science in conflict1
Religion and science in conflict
  • Science has also benefited from some religious sources.
  • Blackwell notes that in the 17th century the religious conviction that the universe is fundamentally RATIONAL and can be understood through thought and reason gave modern science its initial self confidence that there was a scientific explanation for things.
  • People were trying to understand the mind of God.
religion and science in conflict2
Religion and science in conflict
  • At other times science and religion have opposed each other and well-known examples are:
  • Galileo’s spent his life under house arrest after claiming that the planets orbited the sun.
  • Copernicus and Keppler suffered similar fates.
  • Darwin – was challenged by the Church and denounced as a heretic. The date over evolution continues to this day.
religion and science in conflict3
Religion and science in conflict
  • Other religions have also had difficulties with science and technology.
  • Medieval Islam was scientifically more advanced than in the west, but in more recent centuries there has been little interest in scientific developments in some Muslim countries with little money going into scientific research, quite unlike the early history.
  • The ideology that the golden age of Islam has passed means that many believe a reversal in society is needed rather than progression.
religion and science in conflict4
Religion and science in conflict
  • The problem seems to be competing sources of authority.
  • Religion has seemed nervous of scientific discoveries which seem to undermine religious beliefs.
  • At the same time many great scientists held, and still hold, religious beliefs.
  • Not all scientists seek to try to answer religious questions and not all religions try to answer scientific questions, though distinguishing the two might sometimes be difficult.
religion and technologies
Religion and technologies
  • As well as science religion has depended on technological developments and been changed by them. The inventions of writing marked a fundamental shift in religious teachings as sacred texts could be written down rather than passed through oral traditions.
  • The printing press mean that religious writings become widely available.
  • Cathedrals and great mosques and temples represent some of the finest achievements in architecture and structural engineering – for instance st Pauls in London or Sulimanye mosque in Istanbul.
  • In the modern world religions use the internet extensively to propagate beliefs and link communities together.
religion and technologies1
Religion and technologies
  • An important area of conflict in the present age is concerned with medical ethics, and, in particular, the use of human embryos.
  • Religions that belief that human life from conception is sacred have great difficulty accepting that embryos can be created for experimentation or for the development of medicines or support of other children.
  • This seems to be using on human person for another.
religion and technologies2
Religion and technologies
  • It seems to break a Kantian rule that people should never be treated as a means to an end but always ends in themselves, and a religious rule that human life is sacred with a divine purpose or eternal destiny.
  • Scientific breakthroughs may well be made through the use of the human embryo in this way, but religions that regard embryos as having dignity and as being persons, even if only potential persons at that stage, will never be comfortable with it.
key question
Key question

How far should society allow religion to control scientific and technological development?


Government by the people, for the people

  • Research take place within research establishments which may be state-funded (usually universities) or privately funded bodies (a research and development part of a company).
  • In the UK, government regulation controls the deployment of new technologies so, for instance, drug regulatory authorities license new medicines for specific uses.
  • In the British parliamentary democracy new technologies and scientific developments are controlled ultimately by an elected Parliament which can be voted out during general elections.

C of E bishops are given lordships and contribute to legislation in the House of Lords

  • Regulatory bodies such as, HFEA may have representation from religious and other interest communities to help guide decision making
  • Even thought there is an established Church of England, religions do not have ethical controls over science and technology, parliament does.
  • They are not free to do what they want however, research establishments have ethical processes for their research activities and companies may also have such guidelines, but these are self-regulatory processes.

Religions have such a strong moral grounding that they wish to prevent violations happening especially if they consider it a downward slope for society.

Their intention is good but is it outdated and based on unfounded claims?

  • The problem with society and advancement is that tensions emerge where particular groups differ from the perceived consensus.
  • For instance, in the case of embryo experimentation, some religious groups object to the use of embryos for experimentation.
  • They do not necessarily want to stop developments, but they do try to influence the way developments take place so that, for instance, the individual dignity and sanctity of the human person are taken into account.

However, Iran currently has a very dubious past and present regarding Human Rights. Actions have and are justified by the extremist Islamic religious authority which runs the country.

  • In other countries such as Iran, religious authorities have direct powers to prevent or allow development and practices.
  • the questions are:
  • To what extent should religion have any special position in influencing laws beyond the usual democratic process?
  • Does this represent an important tradition of thought that should have a special voice of authority on matters of public importance?
  • The same question can apply to any pressure group seeking to change the law on an issue it feels to be important.
do we need religion
Do we need religion?
  • Governments are aware of public opinion (they cannot survive elections without public support).
  • They listen to pressure groups and other interest groups (including religious groups) to form a view on what societies values are an how they apply to particular issues.
  • They can also represent the public morality better than the religion which may express naive views about science and technology which frustrate developments.
  • Religion has throughout our history taken a regulatory role in science and technology.
  • However, how can we justify any religion taking the moral high ground in a multiethnic and multi-faith society?
  • Ultimately it seems that religion does offer an important moral check for science.
  • But, it should only be taken into advisement, whist the elected government should have the final say.
  • The religious view is important but in order to make equal advancement it sometimes must be overruled.
  • Is science heartless? Give four reasons for your view.
  • Is religion mindless? Give four reasons for your view.
  • Consider the quotations on the previous slides. Choose one that you find convincing and another that you do not find so convincing and give reasons for your choices.
examiners tip2
Examiners tip
  • Check the wording of the questions carefully. There are bound to be contentious words in there designed to enable you to discuss quite passionately (words like ‘control’ and ‘permit’ and ‘limit’. Practice answers where you debate the meaning of these words as well as the arguments for and against the motion.
  • Quotes about religion and science
  • Science and religion have been great partners
  • They have also been great opponents
  • Technological advancements have benefited religious organisations
  • But the worry over ethics is still there.
  • Religion champions individualism and the sanctity of life. As long as this is not opposed the two can be friends.
  • Religion has always had a regulatory history.
  • Current research is governed by ethical controls and government bodies which is responsible to the public.
  • Religion does not want to stop technological advancement but does have moral concerns.
  • Religious control however, has been shown to have negative effects on scientific advancement in Iran
  • Governments are accountable to the public, whereas religions are not.
  • As such, governments should be in control with religions offering their view.