chapter  39
13 Pages

Bioethics

ByPAUL COPAN

In a world of rapid biomedical advances, what is the moral significance of human life? What does it mean to be embodied, finite beings, living between conception and death in this world? Do humans have intrinsic rights that medical practices ought not to infringe, or are “rights” mere legal stipulations (positive law) wholly without ontic status? Is it legitimate to treat humans as a means, say, to some “greater” social end? For instance, could we justifiably harvest the organs of one innocent human being to save or enhance multiple lives lacking those life-sustaining organs? Is human worth contingent upon certain functions such as self-awareness, rationality, decision-making powers, and social skills? What inherent limits, if any, should be placed on medical technology? What are the moral implications of technological advances as they have a bearing on the care or treatment of embodied human beings?