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Authors

Jie Yin

Abstract 摘要

Stem cell research is a controversial issue in bioethical debates because, although stem cells have great therapeutic potential, such research involves the creation, use, and destruction of human embryos. Some debates center on the question of whether embryonic stem cells have a moral status. This paper contends that in the West, the discussion on whether research on embryonic stem cells is ethically acceptable is usually approached from the perspective of reason or rationality, as one sees in legal provisions pertaining to the issue. Very often, (instrumental) rationality is taken as the primary source for moral and legal justification. The paper analyzes the Kantian notion of “moral status,” pointing out the limits of this way of thinking.

Chinese philosophy, especially Confucianism, does not merely employ rationality as a means for making moral judgments. The Confucian idea of “li” (appropriateness), which aims at achieving propriety in one’s roles and relations, can be used to deal with specific ethical difficulties. Because stem cell research deals with humans and human relationships, it goes beyond legal permission or issues such as informed consent. This paper attempts to show that a rational approach may not always work for people whose moral lives and ideals are embedded in Chinese culture. It does not argue that Confucian ethical views can resolve all moral controversies, particularly those raised by modern medical technologies. It does, however, argue that Confucian moral theory and ethical practice should be reconstructed to tackle the current moral dilemmas concerning bioethical issues.

現代醫學中的胚胎幹細胞研究引發極具爭議性的倫理問題。西方社會本著崇尚理性的精神,探討胚胎幹細胞研究多從合法性和合理性的角度出發。至於中國文化,理性不是唯一的工具,甚至從來不曾用於制定規範的基準線。如儒家對於倫理學問題,便主張採取以仁為本、以禮為綱的態度。本文試圖以胚胎幹細胞之問題為例,分析並論證這種觀點,即儒家視角可能是我們看待倫理學問題另一較為有效之方法。儒家“禮”的觀念既是個人修為的標準、社會習俗和輿論的指引,也是立法的基礎,並且是倫理與律法相協調之根本。在當代社會科技飛速發展的形勢下,儒家傳統觀念仍因其關涉人之根本問題的本質而擁有強大的生命力。

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