Science and Ethics
Over the years, technological advancements and extensive scientific research have proved beyond reasonable doubt that these developments profoundly affect the lives of individuals and how society functions. The knowledge that scientist have gathered in genetics has been instrumental in changing the manner in which we approach kinship, the risk of illnesses and the application of gene therapy to alter some of these adverse characteristics (Goshgarian). Presently, it is possible to take note of any chemical changes (biomem sensors) and a clear view of the body’s interior using techniques that enable us to visualize our interiors using an MRI scanner. It is also possible to grow cells in a laboratory and use tissue engineering to develop whole tissues that will come in handy to patients who may be in dire need. The astonishing pace of these advancements is disturbing to a section of individuals who are skeptical of their application and consequences (Grady). Furthermore, the matter of contention here is the increased dependency on these advancements and the clash they would have on long-held individual values about their ethical values. In this essay, I will identify ethical dilemmas in scientific advancements together with how they influence developments in science and medicine.
One common ethical dilemma has been the debate surrounding stem cell research. These particular cells are known for their potential to transform into an assortment of cell types that are vital during growth and early life. They act as an internal repair system that is capable of multiplying and replenish other cells that are within the organism. Stem cells are of a unspecialized origin and renew through the process of cell division after an extended period of inactivity (Monroe et al. 45). Scientists often use somatic or embryonic stem cells that grow in the lab. The cells are then named human embryonic stem cells and subsequently developed. It is important to note that stem cell research entails unending controversies over the use of human embryonic stem cells during these studies. Critics claim that it is ethically impermissible for researchers to destroy the human embryos used during the research period. It is such ethical dilemmas that have hampered any progress in the use of embryonic cells for research. These cells are unique in that they have regenerative abilities that have the potential for treating heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, the knowledge gained from human stem cells could be useful in coming up with new therapy techniques which are shelved.
Human enhancement also represents the rapid change that is taking place presently in science that is also a source of many ethical dilemmas. For the longest time, human beings have been on a quest to improve their mental and physical capabilities. Biomedical advances have now made it possible for a scientist to carry out extensive research on how they can enhance mobility, vision, and hearing among their subjects. Scientists have been known to use anabolic steroids that ostensibly stimulate muscle growth to increase their mass. Developments in nanotechnology and biotechnology are at the forefront of efforts geared towards enhancements of human capabilities. Detractors of this scientific feat claim that it may introduce unfair competition in the workplace. For instance, business leaders and academics often use generic drugs such as modafinil as a stimulant when it was initially meant to cure narcolepsy (Thompson 34). It is, however, important to acknowledge that such a dilemma is responsible for hampering efforts to aid individuals with a wide range of disabilities while at the same time heal the sick. Artificial retinas will be extraordinary in restoring sight to patients that are partially blind while movement restored in non-responsive limbs by implanting a computer chip into the brain of a paralyzed individual.
The whole genome diagnosis development has also proved to be an existential, ethical dilemma that needs to be dealt with promptly. It allows researchers to catalog and record all available genomes in the body of a newborn baby. Researchers begin the process by the newborn’s blood sample that would enable them to map the genetic code fully (Harper et al. 67). Such an undertaking is meant to allow them to search for any present or future health risks that are likely to plague the test subject. Nonetheless, there are those who believe that parents should not receive any information about the potential threats that their children may be facing as this may alter the manner in which the family treats the child. There are also those who opine that the chances are that there might be occasions where the technology might not be accurate, hence leading to a series of false alarms. Putting a lid on such research would bar the medical community from testing newborns for rare diseases (“What Noninvasive, Early Fetal Tests Mean for Pregnancy, Abortion, and More”). These screenings are essential in the early management of disabilities, brain damage and in some cases prevent death.
In conclusion, advancement in science and the quest to find cures for a plethora of diseases has led to ethical dilemmas with some criticizing these moves. Stem cell research, human advancement, and whole genome diagnosis are just a few areas that have ignited heated debates over their permissibility in a moral society. While these squabbles continue, improvements that are capable of saving lives or improving the health of individuals are put on hold hampering any efforts to enhance scientific research and medicine. It is therefore essential to strike a healthy balance that would enable us to tap into the full potential of these developments.
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