Are biotechnological advances fueled by the quest to improve the happiness of humankind or to procure greater profits?

The ethical issues of biotechnology: Religious culture and the value of life

From Current Sociology

Human society faces many sensitive problems over the value of life as a result of the advancement of bioethics and medical technologies.  Over the last 2 decades many countries have strengthened policies promoting bioscience and advanced medicine. One of the most notable areas is progress in decoding the human genome, increased knowledge about genes, and manipulation and use of the human germline (embryos, sperm and eggs) by technological intervention. This progress has caused concern for some as important questions have been raised about the value of life and unease has been expressed over the potential direction of science and technology. It is argued that the globalized competition in science and technology makes it necessary to transcend the views concerning the value of life propagated by particular religious cultures.  This article investigates how the value of life is conceptualized by religious cultures in regard to the emerging threats.


Abstract

Advances in biotechnology and medical science, especially breakthroughs in cloning and stem cell research, have raised great expectations for curing diseases, repairing damaged body tissue and organs, enabling conception at advanced age and selecting embryos based on genetic diagnosis. However, the question arises whether these advances will improve the happiness of humankind or whether human bodies are being assaulted as development resources in order to procure greater profits. This article investigates how the value of life is conceptualized by religious cultures vis-a-vis the emerging threats. With regard to the early embryonic stage of human life, the Catholic Church, for example, has raised a loud voice against the artificial termination of pregnancy. As a matter of fact, various religious cultures have showed and underpinned to a considerable extent the value of life and the direction that science and technology should take in this respect. It is argued that the globalized competition in science and technology makes it necessary to transcend the views concerning the value of life propagated by particular religious cultures.

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Article details
Susumu, S. (2011). The ethical issues of biotechnology: Religious culture and the value of life Current Sociology, 59 (2), 160-172 DOI: 10.1177/0011392110391147

     
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