Ethics: norms for conduct that distinguish between acceptable and
unacceptable behavior. Ethics govern the course of research and development to
ensure that it does not cause harm to mankind.
Norms promote the aims of research, such as knowledge, truth, and
avoidance of error.
Ethical standards promote the values that are essential to collaborative
work, such as trust, accountability, mutual respect, and fairness, since
research often involves a great deal of cooperation and coordination among many
different people in different disciplines and institutions.
Many of the ethical norms help to
ensure that researchers can be held accountable
to the public
Ethical norms in research also
help to build public support for
research. People are more likely to fund a research project if they can trust
the quality and integrity of research.
Finally, many of the norms of research
promote a variety of other important moral
and social values, such as social responsibility, human rights, animal
welfare, compliance with the law, and public health and safety.
o Ethical Dilemmas in Science and Research
§ Bioethics – Embryonic Stem
Cell Research & Cloning
Embryonic stem cell research and
cloning involve the use of the human embryo which poses a moral dilemma. It
forces us to choose between two moral principles:
The duty to prevent or alleviate
The duty to respect the value of human
It is impossible to respect both
moral principles concurrently.
To obtain embryonic stem cells,
the early embryo has to be destroyed. This means destroying a potential human
In therapeutic cloning, the cloned
embryo is created solely for destruction.
Besides, low success rates of cloning as of now mean loss of large
numbers of embryos and fetuses.
But embryonic stem cell research
and cloning could lead to the discovery of new medical treatments that would
alleviate the suffering of many people.
Some people see destroying a
blastula for its cells as destroying an unborn child. Others feel that a
blastula is not exactly a child just yet, because unless a blastula is imbedded
in the uterus wall, it will never have the chance to develop into a baby.
Every year fertility clinics
create many blastula that are destroyed because they are made in surplus.
Supporters of ESC research generally feel that using cells from these surplus
blastula for research and developing medical treatments, which could help
improve and save people’s lives, is much better than throwing them away.
Religious views: Different
religions view the status of the early human embryo in different ways.
The Roman Catholic, Orthodox and
conservative Protestant Churches believe the embryo has the status of a human
from conception and no embryo research should be permitted.
Judaism and Islam emphasize the
importance of helping others and argue that the embryo does not have full human
status before 40 days, so both these religions permit some research on embryos.
Conclusion: Debates and discussions about the
moral and ethical views of ESCs help establish the rules and regulations that
govern scientific research and the development of medical treatments using stem
It is important to realise that,
although people may have very strong opinions on what is “best” for
society, groups on both sides of this discussion are interested in helping and
protecting human lives. Understanding this can greatly help people to respect
each other’s differences in opinions and work to find the middle ground.