Substance Ontology Cannot Determine the Moral Status of Embryos

Morris, Jason
August 2012
Journal of Medicine & Philosophy;Aug2012, Vol. 37 Issue 4, p331
Academic Journal
Assigning the appropriate moral status to different stages of human development is an urgent problem in bioethics. Many philosophers have attempted to assess developmental events using strict ontological principles to determine when a developing entity becomes essentially human. This approach is not consistent with recent findings in reproductive and stem cell biology, including the discovery of the plasticity of early embryonic development and the advent of induced pluripotent stem cells. Substance ontology should therefore not be used to determine the moral status of the embryo.


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