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Humans and Hybrids: A Critique of the Western Moral Framework

1 June 2004


This paper uses the advent of human-animal hybrids, created though somatic cell nuclear transfer experiments in America and Australia, as a tool to deconstruct and challenge the dualistic belief that humans are morally distinct and superior to animals. The view that moral value corresponds to species membership creates a scientific and cultural environment that prohibits or restricts human embryo experimentation whilst permitting the extensive use of animals for research. The dualistic premise therefore motivates the creation of human-animal hybrids for research as a way for scientists to side-step restrictive legislation. Furthermore, ethical frameworks that incorporate the dualistic assumption have been incapable of objectively assessing the moral value of hybrid embryos. This failure indicates the arbitrariness of the moral dichotomy between animals and humans. Moral dualism, based on species membership, should be replaced with a liberal ethical framework based on a consistent standard such as interests.


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