“Setting Aside the Ethical Issues”

by Dave Schuler on January 21, 2013

I don’t mean to be picking on poor Alex Knapp today. Really I don’t. (A clear preface to doing just that.) However, in a post riffing on an interview in Der Spiegel with Harvard geneticist George Church who proposes enlisting an “extremely adventurous human female” in the program of cloning a Neanderthal, Alex writes:

Setting aside the ethical issues behind creating the lone survivor of an extinct human species, doomed to be a freak under the microscope of celebrity his or her entire life, I have to question Dr. Church’s contention that it would really be that easy to clone a Neanderthal.

Why set the the ethical issues aside? If we’re going to set them aside, why not just draft a suitable “human female”? Ethical issues aside, why not remove Dr. Church’s brain and put it on display?

Let’s make a list of all the atrocities we can think of and preface each of them with “setting aside ethical issues”.

Let’s not.

It’s unethical. Full stop. Don’t do it. Don’t write any farther.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Janis Gore January 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm

What the hell ? We do it all the time.

Alex Knapp January 21, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Well, I think that the effort itself is prima facie unethical. But people seem to think that modern bioscience is (a) way more advanced than it actually is and (b) way simpler than it actually is. The assumption roaring around the discussion of this is that we’ll be able to do this in a couple of years. That’s just absurd.

Janis Gore January 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Y’all think a lot of yourselves, boys.

Andy January 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm

This post reminded me of this piece from about a year ago.

Janis Gore January 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Dammit, Andy, are you gonna pay for turning the baby’s foot around?

That happens a lot.

Janis Gore January 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm

“I can afford to make her whole”?

“I’ll marry her even if she is club-footed”?

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