How can ethics relate to science? The case of stem cell research

Carvalho, Ana Sofia; Ramalho-Santos, João
June 2013
European Journal of Human Genetics;Jun2013, Vol. 21 Issue 6, p591
Academic Journal
We live in an era of an important turning point in the relationship between ethics (or, more accurately, bioethics) and science, notably due to both public interest and the gradual tightening of the gap in time between scientific discoveries and ethical reflection. The current bioethics debates of emerging situations (pluripotent stem cells, gene therapy, nanotechnology) have undoubtedly contributed to this change. Today, science happens and bioethics reflects on the possibilities, considers the risks, and advances proposals, which, without being scientific, can also imprint a mark on the path of scientific development. In this article, through the narrative of stem cell research, we will try to illustrate how bringing a bioethical viewpoint to the scientific debate can become a healthy exercise in both ethics and science, especially as narratives shift, as was the case in this field due to the introduction of induced pluripotent stem cells, the advent of which is not easily dissociated from the controversies related to embryo research. We should perhaps welcome this trend as promising for the future relationship between ethics and scientific research, providing a stimulus (and not a block) to the ever-evolving scientific discourse.


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