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According to the future of value argument for the immorality of abortion, the best explanation for the presumptive serious wrongness of killing innocent post-natal children and adults is that killing them deprives them of all of the goods of life that they would have experienced had they not been killed. These future goods can be called their “futures of value”. Fetuses have futures (very much!) like ours. Therefore, given some assumptions, ending their lives is seriously presumptively wrong, or so the argument goes.1i
The future of value argument has two parts. (1) It is an account of what is sufficient to make killing presumptively seriously wrong in the cases of all those individuals whom, we all agree, it is wrong to kill. (2) It endorses the implication that it is presumptively seriously wrong to end the life of a fetus. In the first part of this essay I briefly shall discuss the virtues of the future of value account of the wrongness of killing. In the second part I shall discuss how this theory of the wrongness of killing is one aspect of a larger plausible portion of morality. Finally, I shall discuss how, when the future of value account is placed within this larger bit of morality, the relation of the future of value account to some other issues in bioethics can be illuminated.
THE VIRTUES OF THE FUTURE OF VALUE ACCOUNT
Although I may, with some justification, be accused of bias in this matter, I believe that the future of value account of the wrongness of killing has a number of virtues.
1. The future of value view is one aspect of a more general understanding of why premature death, whether caused by a human agent or caused by something else, is a misfortune. It reflects why persons who are facing premature death from AIDS or cancer or some other disease believe that their impending deaths are a misfortune to them. Their misfortune is that they will not experience the good things contained in the future lives they would have lived in the absence of the fatal disease. The future of value account, in short, reflects what people who face premature death actually believe.
2. The future of value account is based on what has value. It is based on what, in the victim’s future, she would value. In this respect it is superior to those accounts of the wrongness of killing in which killing is said to be wrong because the victim is a human being or because the victim is a person. Being a human being is a merely biological characteristic. It cannot be, all by itself, the basis for wrongness, whereas a value characteristic can be. Those opposed to abortion should not be singled out for this sort of mistake. Some of those in favour of abortion choice have made the personhood of the victim the basis for the wrongness of killing her and then have gone on to identify being a person with a cluster of psychological characteristics.2 But psychological characteristics are as much merely natural properties as are biological properties. They are not, all by themselves, the basis for wrongness. The future of value view avoids these mistakes.
3. The future of value view is a victim-centred view. The wrong of killing is located just where we all believe it should be: in something about the victim of the killing.
4. The future of value view locates the wrong of killing just where it should be in another respect. It locates the wrong of killing in the prospective future of the victim. When Fred kills Joe, Fred does not alter Joe’s past. Joe’s past is already completed. It cannot be changed. Furthermore, when Fred kills Joe, Fred does not really alter Joe’s present. The present is instantaneous; it divides the past and the present. Accordingly, the wrong of killing must be concerned with the victim’s prospective future.
5. The future of value view does, only in part, accommodate the view, not universally held, that it is wrong to kill human adults and children, but it is not wrong to kill other mammals (or, perhaps, non-primates). The future lives we humans value seem qualitatively different from the lives of (for example) our canine friends. Our futures involve plans, anticipations, working on projects and rich experiences that are not part of their lives. Other humans have futures more like ours than the futures of our canine friends. The future of value view does not, therefore, imply that our canine friends are wronged by being killed. Of course, it does not imply that they are not wronged by being killed either. In this latter respect the future of value view may be inferior to the “because they are human” or “because they are persons” view, on the assumption that (non-human) animals are not wronged by being killed (painlessly, of course). I believe, however, that the indeterminacy of the future of value view is a virtue.
6. The future of value view is superior to a set of alternative accounts of the wrongness of killing often found in the philosophical literature. This set of accounts is based upon the fact that humans have a very strong desire to live. Since the obligation to respect, ceteris paribus, the strong desires of others, is a basic moral principle, and since human beings have a very strong desire to continue to live, we should respect the very strong desires of others to continue to live. This is why it is wrong to kill people, or so the argument goes.
Many versions of such accounts have been proposed. They appeal to what we desire,3 4 or to our interests,5 6 or to what we care about,7 or to what we hope for,8 or to what we value.7 It is useful to call members of the class of such accounts “pro-attitude accounts”.
The popularity of such accounts of the wrongness of killing in the philosophical literature is no accident. Pro-attitude accounts have two major virtues. In the first place, because such accounts are based on what the victim values, such accounts cannot be accused of basing the wrongness of killing on a purely natural property without explanation. They do not suffer from the shortcomings of accounts in terms of being human or being a person.
In the second place such accounts plainly do not imply that abortion is immoral. Fetuses lack pro-attitudes toward their futures. Thus, pro-attitude accounts support the cause of reproductive rights. This is clearly a virtue.
Nevertheless, pro-attitude accounts are subject to a fatal flaw. They fail to underwrite the wrongness of ending the lives of persons who suffer from depression and have no interest in living. They fail to underwrite the wrongness of my killing you after I give you a drug that causes you no longer to care about continuing to live. They fail to underwrite the wrongness of killing you if you have been brainwashed by a religious cult so that you are convinced that you should enlist my aid in sacrificing your life to the gods.3 It follows that pro-attitude accounts are unsatisfactory.
Both pro-attitude accounts and the future of value account of the wrongness of killing are superior to other accounts of the wrongness of killing because they incorporate our actual values into their accounts of wrongness. However, the future of value account of the wrongness of killing is superior to any pro-attitude account because the former account explains why it is wrong to kill the suicidal and the latter does not.
SOME FOUNDATIONAL ASPECTS OF THE FUTURE OF VALUE ACCOUNT
A good deal more can be said about the future of value account. Consider a conundrum that probably would occur only to a philosopher. According to the future of value account fetuses have futures like ours. Someone might argue that this is plainly false. Aborted fetuses lack futures like ours for the very simple reason that if they are aborted, there will be no future stage of their lives, valued or not. Thus, only non-aborted fetuses have futures like ours. Therefore, even if the future of value analysis were correct, no abortion has ever been wrong, or so the argument goes.
One might suspect that something is wrong with this argument because it applies, not only to fetuses, but to all human beings, whatever their ages. My future of value is not now, and may not later be, actual. It is a potential future. Even though appeals to potentiality often have been criticised in the abortion literature, the future of value argument is a potentiality argument through and through. It claims that the wrongness of killing a human being is based on that human being’s potentiality whether that human being is an infant or a child or an adult or an old person—or a fetus. It claims that your potentiality, reader, is what makes ending your life wrong. Someone has a future of value at some time (t) if and only if, she would have a life that she would value if she continues to live. If you happen to be in a permanent vegetative state, then you lack the potential to have a future life you will value and if you lack the potential to have a future life you will value, then the standard reason why it is wrong to end a human life does not apply to you.
This analysis apparently leaves us with a philosophical problem. I have just given an analysis of what it is to have a future of value in terms of what philosophers call “a counterfactual conditional”. The analysis of such conditionals has perplexed philosophers for many years.10 A brief explanation of the nature of this problem will shed light on the future of value account.
Conditionals are sentences of the form “If p, then q” and are staples of elementary logic courses. The clause after “if” and before “then” is called “the antecedent”. The clause after “then” and before the period is called “the consequent”. In elementary logic courses we ask the question: What makes conditionals true? Students in elementary logic courses often are told that a conditional is true if and only if it is not the case that the antecedent of the conditional is true and the consequent is false. Charity bids me not to discuss the truth of this claim. At any rate, according to elementary logic dogma the truth of a proposition of the form “If p, then q” is a simple function of the truth of its constituents. The truth or falsity of conditionals so understood is straightforward and utterly lacking in mystery.
The trouble is that the truth conditions of counterfactual conditionals, and therefore, the truth conditions of the counterfactual conditional “If Jones had not been killed at t, then Jones would have had a life that he would have valued after t” is plainly not, as elementary logic might have it, a simple function of the truth of its antecedent and its consequent. (Otherwise all counterfactual conditionals are true!) So our issue becomes: what underwrites the truth of the counterfactual conditional that, according to the future of value theory, underwrites, in turn, the wrongness of killing Jones?
The sad truth is that the task of giving a general account of the truth conditions for counterfactual conditionals is extraordinarily difficult. Someone searching for a fatal difficulty with the future of value analysis might find in this difficulty a reason for rejecting it. The argument might go: “The future of value analysis of the wrongness of killing us is true only if certain counterfactual conditionals are true of us. But we have no account of the conditions under which these counterfactual conditionals are true because we have no adequate general account of the conditions under which counterfactual conditionals are true. Therefore, the future of value analysis must be jettisoned.”
There is a problem with this argument. If compelling, it would provide us with grounds for rejecting, not only the future of value account of the wrongness of ending the lives of fetuses, but with grounds for rejecting a plausible account of the wrongness of killing ordinary children and adults. Worse, it would provide us with grounds for rejecting the most plausible general account of harm that I know. The view that harms should be understood in terms of counterfactual conditionals seems plausible.11 When Fred harms Joe, Fred makes Joe worse off than Joe would have been if Fred had not acted. Joe’s being worse off is a future condition of Joe; when else could it occur? To talk of making someone worse off is to invoke a comparison. For there to be a harm, we need to be able to say something true about what Joe’s condition in the future would have been had Fred not acted. Accordingly, for there to be harm at all, some true counterfactual conditional is needed to back up the harm claim.
But what could be the basis for the true counterfactual claim that underwrites our belief that when Fred killed Joe, Fred greatly harmed Joe?
Some simple philosophy of science can provide some insight here. When we say of ordinary table salt that it is soluble in water, we are making a claim about what philosophers call a dispositional property of the table salt. Talk of salt’s solubility when it is in the shaker is talk about what would happen to the table salt (but is not actually happening now, or perhaps, ever) under conditions that could obtain (but do not actually obtain at all). True talk about the dispositional properties of things is based upon the truth of a relevant counterfactual conditional. What is there that is actual that makes the counterfactual conditional true? The counterfactual conditional that is true of the table salt is true in virtue of a structural property, the nature of table salt. It is true in virtue of scientific truths about the composition of table salt, about sodium ions and chloride ions when combined and when separated. This structural property of the table salt is nothing hypothetical, in the way that the antecedent and the consequent of a counterfactual conditional are hypothetical. The nature of the table salt is an actual existent property of the table salt. In general, counterfactual conditionals in science are true in virtue of the nature of the things of which they are asserted.
Medical judgments can be given an analysis of this kind. When you visit your physician because you have a certain disease and your physician recommends a certain treatment for your disease, what is your physician thinking when she makes the recommendation? She is thinking that you probably will benefit from the treatment. What is it to benefit from a treatment? One will benefit from the treatment if and only if one will be better off receiving the treatment than if the disease continues on its natural course. “Better” is a comparative term. The judgment of benefit, like a judgment of harm, is a comparative judgment. Your physician is making a judgment about your (probable) future state if you receive the treatment and comparing it to your (probable) future state if the disease continues its natural (untreated) course. Suppose you do receive the treatment and you do benefit. This judgment of benefit is comparative and is based on a counterfactual conditional that concerns how you would have fared if you had not received the treatment. The truth of the counterfactual conditional is based on the natural history of your disease, a natural history of which your physician first learned when she took a course in human pathology as a sophomore in medical school. Indeed, human pathology just is the study of the natural history of diseases.
Claims about harm in medicine are similar to claims about benefit. Suppose you have a disease for which there is no known curative treatment. The disease harms you; it makes you worse off than you would have been had you not had the disease. The condition of being worse off can involve either the quality or quantity of your life. Suppose that you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The disease may not shorten your life (although it often does). But your life of wheezing and being tethered to a tank of oxygen is a life of worse quality than the life you (probably) would have led if you had not had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Hence, the disease harms you, and the judgment of the harm is again a comparative judgment, the truth of which is based on a true counterfactual conditional and what makes the counterfactual conditional true is the natural history of a (comparatively) healthy individual.
Suppose now you have pancreatic cancer. Such a cancer shortens people’s lives. We understand the harm of pancreatic cancer in terms of the cancer making you worse off than you (probably) otherwise would have been. Your being worse off is understood, not primarily in terms of the reduced quality of your life (although pancreatic cancer does reduce the quality of one’s life), but in terms of the reduced quantity of one’s life. We believe that a longer life is better, ceteris paribus, than a shorter life because there are more good things in the longer life. The harm of having pancreatic cancer is understood in terms of the shorter life that one has as a result of the pancreatic cancer as compared with the longer life one (probably) would have had (but didn’t actually) if one had not had the pancreatic cancer (but, of course, one did.). The natural history of a (comparatively) healthy individual is what makes that counterfactual conditional true.
Our understanding of the nature of the harm of being killed by a human agent is no different in principle from the analysis of the harm of being killed by pancreatic cancer. The killer makes one worse off than one otherwise would have been. But what is the basis for the claim about what otherwise would have been? Such a claim is a counterfactual conditional and its truth is based how life would have gone for you in the absence of being killed. The judgment of how life would have gone for you is (usually) based upon your natural history as a biological organism.
Is this fact the basis for an objection to the future of value analysis of the wrongness of killing? Recall that “because she is a human being” or “because she is a person” are inadequate explanations of the wrongness of killing because they appeal only to natural properties and do not involve values. One might argue that, because the appeal to the natural history of a human being is also an appeal to a biological characteristic, the future of value view suffers from the same inadequacy. Is there merit in this objection?
The “natural history of a human being appeal” is different. That natural history is the history of a human being who will (or would) value his life. That is not necessarily so in the case of a human being (who may be in PVS) or a person (who may be suicidal). Thus, this objection to the above account of the future of value theory is not compelling.12
IMPLICATIONS OF THE COUNTERFACTUAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE FUTURE OF VALUE ACCOUNT FOR CLONING AND FOR EMBRYOS
The failure to clone objection
Consider, for example, how human clones would be created if cloning humans were possible. The nucleus of a human unfertilised ovum (hereafter a UFO) is removed. The nucleus of some human differentiated cell, for example, a skin cell, is inserted into the enucleated UFO. Under certain laboratory conditions this new cell would function as a human zygote. Let us suppose that this new cell would be the earliest stage of a human being. Julian Savulescu has suggested that the future of value analysis would make it presumptively seriously wrong to fail to clone the skin cell because, if cloning is possible, the skin cell has a future of value. Since it plainly isn’t wrong to fail to clone such a cell, Savulescu’s suggestion, if correct, shows that the future of value analysis is unsound.13
This failure to clone objection can be understood in two different ways. On the one hand, the objection might be based on the claim that if the future of value analysis were true, then the whole skin cell has a future of value. On the other hand, the objection might be based on the claim that if the future of value analysis were true, then the nucleus of the skin cell has a future of value.12
Let us consider the whole skin cell version of the objection. Does, according to the future of value analysis, the failure to clone the skin cell deprive that skin cell of a future of value? The skin cell would have been deprived of a future of value only on the condition that if the skin cell had been cloned, then the skin cell would later have a life it would value. (Here is our counterfactual conditional!) However, the cloning procedure destroys the skin cell by separating out the nucleus of the skin cell from its cytoplasm. Therefore, on the whole skin cell version of the objection, there would be no later phase of the life of the skin cell after cloning in which it has a life it would value because there is no later phase in the life of the skin cell at all.
Now let us consider the skin cell nucleus version of this failure to clone objection. Has the skin cell nucleus been deprived of a future of value by not being cloned? One might respond to this objection by arguing that the skin cell nucleus would not have a future of value if cloned because cloning it would convert it into something else. The argument for this follows. The skin cell nucleus is differentiated. Differentiated cells have natural histories based on their particular natures, and having a valuable future life isn’t one of them. The only candidate (among our present options) for having a natural history that includes having a valuable future life is an undifferentiated nucleus. Because the differentiated nucleus does not have a natural history that underwrites the truth of the relevant counterfactual, there is no basis for the relevant judgment of harm that is the basis for the alleged wrong to the skin cell.
This response to the “nucleus” version of the objection is, as it stands, unsatisfactory.12 Perhaps, instead of supposing that the skin cell nucleus no longer exists when it becomes the undifferentiated nucleus of a zygote, one might suppose that the skin cell nucleus is transformed into an undifferentiated cell nucleus. If it were merely changed, then it could continue to exist after the cloning procedure. If it continued to exist, perhaps it could have a future of value.
Could this undifferentiated cell nucleus continue to exist to have, at a later time, a life it would value? An argument that appeals to the transitivity of identity shows it could not. I shall call any argument based on such an appeal “a transitivity of identity argument”. Name the zygote nucleus, and the differentiated cell nucleus from which it was derived, “Albert”. Albert will soon divide into two nuclei, Bill and Charlie. There is no good reason to identify Albert either with Bill alone or with Charlie alone. If Albert is identified with both, then, since identity is transitive, Bill would be identical with Charlie. Since this is false, when Albert divides, Albert goes out of existence. It follows that Albert never could have a life he values. Therefore, failing to clone Albert does not deprive Albert of a future of value. We may conclude that the nucleus version of the failure to clone objection also fails.12
Understanding the failure to clone objection in terms of nuclei is odd. Some believe that new unicellular individual human beings begin to exist at conception and that they grow through cellular multiplication to become the more mature multi-cellular human beings that we all know and love. Whether or not this view of things survives under analysis, it seems intelligible. The claim that each of us was once a single nucleus is different. Presumably, we would have had to mature through multiplication into a thing that consists of many nuclei (as opposed to being something that consists of many cells). But why isn’t all of that cytoplasm a constituent of us? It is even harder to think of ourselves as bundles of nuclei than as bundles of cells.
We may conclude that neither version of the failure to clone objection to the future of value analysis is successful.
Embryonic cell research
The moral permissibility of human embryonic stem cell research has been much discussed in recent years. Such research may provide us with ways of growing tissue, and perhaps even organs, in the laboratory that can replace the destroyed tissue responsible for a human’s pathology. In this way the treatment of heretofore incurable diseases could be made possible. This replacement tissue would be obtained from human embryonic stem cells. These stem cells are obtained from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst that develops a few days after fertilisation. However, obtaining such stem cells (apparently) involves destruction of the blastocyst. Some believe such destruction to be the destruction of a very early phase of a human being. What are the implications of the future of value analysis for the moral permissibility of the embryo destruction (apparently) required for human embryonic stem cell research?
Here is an argument that human embryonic stem cell research is wrong. It seems true to say, of an embryo that has been destroyed, that, if it had not been destroyed, then it would have had in its future a life that it would value. (Here’s our counterfactual conditional again.) Thus the harm resulting from the destruction of the embryo is as serious as the harm resulting from ending your life, reader. Is this argument sound?
One response to this argument appeals to the fact that the embryos destroyed for human embryonic stem cell research are embryos that have been frozen as a result of the procedures used for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and that such embryos, even if not destroyed for human embryonic stem cell research, will eventually be discarded anyway. (This is sometimes called “the nothing is lost response”.) Presumably we may infer that even if a particular embryo had not been destroyed for human embryonic stem cell research, it would not have had a future of value. Accordingly, the counterfactual conditional that would underwrite the necessary harm claim is not true.
This response will not persuade those who claim human embryonic stem cell research is immoral. They will say that this response depends upon the fact that in the course of IVF we treat embryos very badly by freezing them and eventually discarding them. It seems reasonable to argue that the fact that we treat them badly as a matter of course should not be used to justify treating them badly in another way. What is crucial for the moral analysis, one might argue, is the natural history of a human embryo and part of that natural history is to have, in the future, a valuable life.
But is it? To say of an embryo that if it had not been destroyed, it would have had, in the future, a life it would then value is to neglect the fact that embryos can twin, that is, the cells of a single blastocyst can separate and develop into two (or more) adults. Here again a transitivity of identity argument is useful. Those two adults could not be later phases in the history of the embryo from which they arose because, if they were, they would be the same individual as that earlier embryo. If they were the same individual as that earlier embryo, then they would be identical to each other. Since this is false, twinning destroys the earlier embryo. One might conclude from this that the human stuff that exists prior to the time at which twinning is no longer possible is not yet definitely an individual and therefore not yet definitely an individual with a future of value.12
This twinning argument will not do as it stands. It is open to embryos’ defenders to argue that, although it is not wrong to destroy human embryos that would have gone out of existence by twinning, the future of value argument shows that it would have been wrong to destroy embryos that would not have twinned at all. This is the vast majority of embryos. The defender of embryos can argue that the situation here is not significantly different from a situation regarding infants. It is wrong to kill infants because killing them deprives them of a future of value even though sudden infant death syndrome may cause some to go out of existence.
Is there a response to this objection to the twinning argument? Arthur Kuflik has offered one. A necessary condition for an embryo to have a future of value is that an embryo is an earlier phase of the same individual as a later baby (if it survives). The only basis for saying that an embryo is the same individual as a baby is that there is a “spatio-temporally continuous molecular-biological development from zygote to baby”. However, if this criterion for individuality were accepted, then “it would follow that twin babies arising from a single zygote must also be identical to that zygote”. The transitivity of identity argument shows that this cannot be so. Therefore, that criterion for individuality must be rejected. Hence, we have no grounds for claiming that a zygote is the same individual as any baby.12
Will this response do? Consider David, the amoeba. Imagine that David splits to become Earl and Fred. A transitivity of identity argument (again!) implies that David goes out of existence upon splitting. But what do we want to say about David’s existence at different times before he splits? It seems reasonable to say that what makes David the same individual amoeba through time is his “spatio-temporally continuous molecular-biological development” until he splits. This being the case, the correct criterion for numerical identity through time must be subject to the condition that splitting does not occur. Thus, there are still problems with the twinning objection to the argument that human embryonic stem cell research is not morally permissible.
Even so, I am inclined to think that the argument does not succeed. Those who object to human embryonic stem cell research believe that “life begins at conception” or, more accurately, that a zygote is (the very first stage of) a human being. Suppose, for the sake of analysis, that they are correct. If a zygote is a human being, then when it splits into two cells just like it, there are good reasons for thinking that the two-celled successor to the zygote is two human beings, and, for similar reasons, that the four celled successor is four human beings, and so on. Could all these human beings have a future of value? Only one human being would emerge from them, so each of them can have a future of value only if they have the same future of value and they can have the same future of value only if that later human being is (or would be) the same individual as each of them. However, if that later human being is (or would be) the same individual as each of them, then an application of the transitivity of identity argument shows that these numerous very early human beings are identical with each other. Since that is false, all these (supposed) human beings do not have the same future of value. Since they do not have the same future of value and since they cannot have many futures of value, they have no future of value at all. Therefore, on the assumption that a zygote is the first stage of a human being, the future of value argument does not support the standard objection to human embryonic stem cell research. If a zygote is not the first stage of a human being, it is hard to find a remotely plausible candidate for the first phase of a human being prior to implantation.14 Hence, whatever assumption we make concerning the first phase of a human being, the future of value analysis of the wrongness of killing does not support an objection to human embryonic stem cell research.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer
The ethics of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) has also generated a good deal of discussion. SCNT involves features both of human cloning and of treatments based on stem cells. Consider a patient needing a transplant of a particular organ or the replacement of some diseased and non-functional tissue. SCNT involves taking a nucleus from a somatic cell of such a patient and inserting it into an enucleated UFO. That cell will function as a zygote. After it divides into a multi-celled entity and ultimately into a blastocyst, undifferentiated stem cells can be extracted from the inner cell mass. It is hoped that such cells can, in the proper environment, be transformed into differentiated cells of the type needed by the patient. The hope is that replacement tissue or a replacement organ can be grown that matches the patient’s genotype. The tissue or the organ can then be transplanted into the patient. This would be beneficial in two ways. First, the shortage of donor organs would be alleviated. Second, because the donor organ would be genetically identical to the recipient, the organ recipient would not be subject to the side effects of taking anti-rejection drugs.
Kuflik has argued that understanding of the future of value analysis in terms of the natural history of a human organism is compatible with the moral permissibility of SCNT. He points out that embryos created by SCNT are artificially created. If they are artificially created, then they do not have natural futures, futures that are part of their natural histories. Because they do not have futures that are part of their natural histories, they do not have futures like ours. Therefore, the future like ours analysis does not imply that it is wrong to sacrifice SCNT’s for organ production.12
Consideration of a no longer rare reproductive technique suggests there is something wrong with this argument. Human beings created using IVF are artificially, and not naturally, created. Even though producing children through IVF procedures is not nearly as much fun as producing children the natural way, IVF children plainly have futures of value, their future natural histories include lives that they value. They are certainly not “mere artifacts”.12 We may conclude that how one is created is one thing; the natural history that underwrites a future of value is another.
Nevertheless, if the argument in the preceding section that the future of value analysis is compatible with the moral permissibility of human embryonic stem cell research is correct, then the same argument will also show that the destruction of embryos created through SCNT also is compatible with the future of value analysis.
Competing interests: None declared.
↵i The most important assumption is that Thomson-style strategies for defending abortion rights fail. If you don’t share this belief, the conclusion of this essay is, of course, a conditional.