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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article begins with an introduction to the biology behind embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. Next it presents briefly four views of moral status, based on four different criteria: biological humanity, personhood, possession of interests, and having a future-like-ours (FLO). On two of these views (the person view and the interest view), embryos clearly lack moral status, but they most likely do not have moral status on the FLO account either. Only the biological humanity criterion combined with the view that life begins at conception results in the conclusion that very early extracorporeal embryos have full moral status, making ESC research that destroys embryos morally wrong. This explains why even some who are anti-abortion are not against ESC research: they do not view the very early, extracorporeal embryo as having the same moral status as the fetus.

Keywords: moral status, moral values, stem cell research, embryonic stem cell, future-like-ours, biological humanity

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