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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Secular liberal ethics for beginners

'From what I've been able to read (the evidence to the committee is on their website), the scientific community of individual scientists and outstanding institutions is virtually unanimous that as the science moves forward, the legislation should keep up. This means that things which 10 years ago had a high "ugh" factor among the public are being pressed forward by the scientific community.

'Cloning, hybrid embryos, "saviour siblings" - created to help save the life of an existing child - all these have a chance to take their place in the panoply of treatments that are changing the nature of our lives and health. We are in the middle of a burst of scientific achievements which have human welfare as their purpose. Each of us, as we age and deteriorate will have reason to be grateful that such advances give us options that make life more bearable. Those with ethical objections do not have to take them.'

- Joan Bakewell in the Independent, my emphasis.

It's all just so thrillingly modern. The clever people doing this stuff think it's perfectly OK, and are very much in favour of being allowed to do what they want to do. And what kind of people are they? Well, they make up a 'scientific community' (twice in one paragraph, indeed) and communities are always a Good Thing. Self-evidently, then, these are warm and caring human beings whose judgment on matters of human welfare is beyond question. Moreover, some of us are not in quite such good nick as we used to be (even if renowned as the Thinking Man's Crumpet) and have high hopes of benefiting personally from new sources of spare parts. So kindly keep your ethical objections to yourself.

And in another ten years' time the scientific community will be pressing forward... what? And in twenty, thirty years? Who knows, but we may already be certain that they will have nothing but our best interests at heart. So let's just hope that the legislation can keep up.

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