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Lessons from Frankenstein 200 years on: brain organoids, chimaeras and other ‘monsters’


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has captured the public imagination ever since it was first published over 200 years ago. While the narrative reflected 19th-century anxieties about the emerging scientific revolution, it also suggested some clear moral lessons that remain relevant today. In a sense, Frankenstein was a work of bioethics written a century and a half before the discipline came to exist. This paper revisits the lessons of Frankenstein regarding the creation and manipulation of life in the light of recent developments in stem cell and neurobiological research. It argues that these lessons are becoming more relevant than ever.

  • neuroethics
  • moral status
  • embryos and fetuses
  • chimaeras
  • animal experimentation
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