Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Chimeric Research

I posted on Chimeric experiments earlier, and will be following up on this shortly (it's become an interest of the Dude's and some readers have come across the blog as a result of searches relating to that), with the following in mind:

  • To recap, the UK's Guardian posted an article on this, written by Jeremy Rifkin, that has continued to be transmitted to other newsmedia since then. Not to harp on Mr. Rifkin, but the article is full of ad hominems, appeals to pity, and other typical and worthless rhetorical tools. For example, in one brief paragraph does he address the benefits of the chimeric research, but in terms too general to do it justice, then proceeds onward in bashing the crap out of it without actually offering any material proof or rational argument.
  • The article has received some commentary (not enough in my opinion to place in fair light), and this one ties the gist of the responses together fairly well. Worth reading as it emphasizes that chimeric research isn't done for aimless experimental whim.
The conflict appears to arise out of a sometimes misconception of what chimeric research is, slippery-slope arguments over what-if-some-scientist-created-some-pseudohuman-monstrosity, and how would current ethics deal with humanness attributions of such a creature, to some Edict Driven Approach about the unalterable value of human dignity and how such experiments trespass upon that.

Meanwhile, the scientists pushing forward with such research make the claim that Chimeric experiments allow for effective testing of theories -more effective over current animal-only models by leaps and bounds- because: 1) animal testing is necessary as the types of tests needed would kill humans if it involved them, and 2) because of the discrepancy between human and animal biological make-up, the more human elements can be included in the biology of the animal, the more veracity the experiments will have.

This is, of course, a brief overview of the issues and doesn't even begin to address the issue of how much biological make-up is needed for something (e.g., a chimp) to become something entirely different (e.g., a human with human consciousness).

So what does philosophy have to say about this? Well, for that, you'll have to stay-tuned as I want to do a thorough enough of a job to provide a synopsis of the philosophical arguments, and then figure out where the Dude would stand on this issue. Look for it in the next couple of days...

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