• verbena
    Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into more specialized cells and are used to treat diseases such as leukemia. There are three types of stem cells; embryonic stem cells, cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells. They all have their benefits as well as their disadvanteges.

    Embryonic stem cells have the benefit of being able to differentiate into any type of cell in the body but requires the death of an embryo. They are known to have almost unlimited growth potential however have a higher chance of becoming tumor cells.

    Cord blood stem cells can differenticate into a quite limited range of specialized cells but have the benefit of being accessible and doesn't require harming any living organisms.

    Adult stem cells are harder to obtain since most of their stem cells are differentiated and there aren't many stem cells present in their body so ones that are left are found deep in tissues. However adult stem cells have less chance of developing into a tumor cells than embryonic cells.

    Is it ethical to use embryonic stem cells to cure diseases? Which of these stem cell types are best for therapeutic usage? Embryos don't have emotions or any life experiences, should it really be considered as unethical using their stem cells have many benefits while curing diseases?
  • Barry Etheridge
    If organ transplants are ethical then there seems to be no grounds on which to object to use of embryonic cells. The real question is surely only how embryos are obtained.
  • Terrapin Station
    The real question is surely only how embryos are obtained.Barry Etheridge

  • verbena
    But the way that they are obtained doesn't change the fact that they are alive.
  • Barry Etheridge

    They are alive in exactly the same way as transplanted organs, masses of living cells which are not self-sustaining. If it is ethical to use one for medical purposes then it is ethical to use the other. It really is as simple as that. Thus the only ethical questions that need answering revolve around how the embryos are obtained; consent for in vitro fertilisations, time limits on stored embryos, whether aborted foetuses might be used without consent and so on.
  • verbena

    What confuses me the most in these kinds of situations is that who decides if something is ethical or not, I believe it is the society. Apparently, what most of the people agree on is counted as "ethical". However I sometimes happen to disagree with the decisions of society on these kinds of topics. Producing a living organism to kill it doesn't seem ethical to me but we cannot unsee the benefits of these products. Obtaining embryos in laboratory conditions sound unethical to me but I agree with you on using the unwanted embryos taken by abortion with the consent of the mother for therapeutic purposes being ethical.
  • _db
    Is it ethical to use embryonic stem cells to cure diseases? Which of these stem cell types are best for therapeutic usage? Embryos don't have emotions or any life experiences, should it really be considered as unethical using their stem cells have many benefits while curing diseases?verbena

    Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to use embryonic stem cells to cure diseases. To view it as wrong is to place more value on a someone who doesn't even exist than a fully-fledged person who is suffering. In other words, the mere idea of a future person is not important, unless of course this person is going to exist and suffer themselves.

    In my view, it all comes down the instrumentality, i.e. the harmful utilization of other sentients for the selfish benefit of others. An embryo is not a person and thus cannot be instrumentalized. Nor is the person the embryo is set to become existent yet. No crystal ball predictive magic shit here; focus on the here-and-now, the people who actually exist and who are actually suffering.

    Ethics in a world like ours should be focused on janitorial clean-up duty; figuring out ways we can clean up the mess we're and with the least amount of harm-trangressions as possible. If we end up maximizing happiness and becoming virtuous sages along the way, cool, whatever, but that shouldn't be our goal. So it's not surprising when I dismiss the potential future good life of a person as irrelevant.
  • BC
    who decides if something is ethical or notverbena

    Hospitals and research universities employ ethicists and panels of experts to assess the ethics of various procedures. The various institutions of society (religious, secular, political, academic, etc.) also engage in ethic-definition.

    We may not reach a society-wide consensus on what is or is not ethical. In which case, we have lots of disputes, laws, punishments, disobeying laws, and so on. Whether destroying embryos is ethical or not is not settled.

    An embryo produced by stimulating an adult cell into becoming a pluripotent stem cell is too 'manmade' to be considered the same as an embryo produced by the usual sperm/egg method. So, I would consider it ethical to use or destroy the embryo, as needed. Should organ tissue be generated and grow into liver, that too could ethically be used or not, either way.

    If an adult-cell-derived embryo is implanted in a womb, begins to develop into a normal fetus, (I don't think this has been done for humans yet, or yet reliably) then it, as a prospective person, could not be aborted, except under ethical rules (like, after 24 weeks of gestation). I also don't like the idea of aborting otherwise healthy fetuses for the purposes of obtaining tissue for whatever purpose.

    The whole business of cloning and genetic engineering of humans is unsettled ethical territory, too.
  • Terrapin Station
    who decides if something is ethical or not,verbena

    Individuals always do.

    Those individuals can agree or disagree with other individuals, and this winds up impacting whether something is allowed practically (via mores/customs/social censure/etc.) or formally (via laws).
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