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Artificial gametes, the unnatural and the artefactual
  1. Anna Smajdor1,
  2. Daniela Cutas2,3,
  3. Tuija Takala4
  1. 1Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  3. 3Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Umeå
  4. 4Social and Moral Philosophy, Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anna Smajdor, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo 0315, Norway; acsmajdor{at}


In debates on the ethics of artificial gametes, concepts of naturalness have been used in a number of different ways. Some have argued that the unnaturalness of artificial gametes means that it is unacceptable to use them in fertility treatments. Others have suggested that artificial gametes are no less natural than many other tissues or processes in common medical use. We suggest that establishing the naturalness or unnaturalness of artificial gametes is unlikely to provide easy answers as to the acceptability of using them in fertility medicine. However, we also suggest that we should be cautious about repudiating any relationship between nature and moral evaluation. The property of being natural or man-made may not per se tell us anything about an entity’s moral status, but it has an important impact on the moral relationship between the creator and the created organism.

  • ethics
  • evolution and creation
  • genetic patents
  • human tissue
  • moral status
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  • Contributors AS conducted most of the planning for this paper, contributed around 40% of the writing and is responsible for the overall paper as guarantor. DC contributed around 35% of the writing. TT contributed around 25% of the writing.

  • Funding Work towards this paper has been supported by the Swedish Research Council (grant number 421-2013-1306).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no unpublished data from this study.

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