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The Ethics of ProtocellsMoral and Social Implications of Creating Life in the Laboratory$
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Mark A. Bedau and Emily C. Parke

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012621

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012621.001.0001

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Social and Ethical Implications of Creating Artificial Cells

Social and Ethical Implications of Creating Artificial Cells

Chapter:
(p.31) 3 Social and Ethical Implications of Creating Artificial Cells
Source:
The Ethics of Protocells
Author(s):

Mark A. Bedau

Mark Triant

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262012621.003.0003

This chapter explores the worries that protocells are inherently bad because they are unnatural, that they violate the sanctity of life, or that their creators are “playing God.” It notes that making decisions about artificial cells requires being courageous about accepting uncertain risks when warranted by the potential gains. This chapter shows that all of the intrinsic objections to the creation of artificial cells turn out to be vague, simplistic, or ill-conceived. It then analyzes the extrinsic objections that turn on the consequences of artificial cells. It suggests that appropriately balancing the virtues of courage and caution would preserve the attractions of the precautionary principle while avoiding its weaknesses.

Keywords:   artificial cells, intrinsic objections, extrinsic objections, courage, caution, protocells, precautionary principle

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