An ethical advancement, regardless of religion
Posted on October 15, 2012
You might have heard last week that Shinya Yamanaka, a scientist at Kyoto University, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work showing how induced pluripotent stem cells could be derived from adult cells and substituted, in both research and therapy, for embryonic stem cells.
In other words: Yamanaka found a way to get the potential benefits of embryonic stem cells from non-embryonic stem cells.
Yamanaka’s achievement was undoubtedly driven by his religious convictions, and his award is a certainly a victory for religious outfits such as the Roman Catholic Church and the National Right to Life Committee — which is precisely why secular liberals might be less than joyous over the news.
However, Slate columnist William Saletan says secular liberals should put aside their religious (or non-religious) baggage and accept, if not celebrate, Yamanaka’s work:
And we shouldn’t turn away from the moral aspect of this achievement just because it gratifies the conservative side of the old stem-cell debate. Yamanaka transformed that debate forever. He tore down the wall between preserving embryos and saving lives. He did what only a scientist could have done: He made it possible for both sides to win. In the words of Julian Savulescu, an ethicist and supporter of embryonic stem-cell research, Yamanaka “deserves not only a Nobel Prize for Medicine, but a Nobel Prize for ethics.”