Scientists never know when to stop

If scientists can’t figure out an ethical system from their rational materialism to limit their need to experiment, they can always wait for a sufficiently material argument to present itself.

A LEADING scientist has warned a new species of “humanzee,” created from breeding apes with humans, could become a reality unless the government acts to stop scientists experimenting. In an interview with The Scotsman, Dr Calum MacKellar, director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, warned the controversial draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill did not prevent human sperm being inseminated into animals. He said if a female chimpanzee was inseminated with human sperm the two species would be closely enough related that a hybrid could be born.

Professor Hugh McLachlan, professor of applied philosophy at Glasgow Caledonian University’s School of Law and Applied Sciences, said although the idea was “troublesome”, he could see no ethical objections to the creation of humanzees. “Any species came to be what it is now because of all sorts of interaction in the past,” he said. “If it turns out in the future there was fertilisation between a human animal and a non-human animal, it’s an idea that is troublesome, but in terms of what particular ethical principle is breached it’s not clear to me.”

There’s always “if you do that, then you will die and your life’s work will be destroyed.” I would think that would be a sufficiently materialist argument to convince even the most rational materialist. Of course, Professor McLachlan shouldn’t have any ethical problem with that minor rearrangement of atoms either.