Why not hybrid embryos?
By Thom Brooks

Recently, British MP’s voted to allow the creation of hybrid embryos for medical research. These embryos would be 99.9% “human” but 0.1% “cow” or “rabbit” — the animal element is simply the use of animal eggs, from which animal DNA is extracted, human DNA implanted, the “hybrid” embryo is then given an electric shock, and then stem cells harvested for use in research. All matter must be destroyed within 14 days. (Q&A on hybrid embryos can be found here.)

This move has been highly controversial for several reasons. Some of these reasons include the following:

On why ethicists tend to write longer papers, Saul Smilansky has proposed the following hypothesis:

1. Do many people NOT write short papers because they believe that (with the exception of Analysis) the journals insist on longer papers?

Do you have this perception? Do vote and let us know. I’m creating this post so that people are aware that there is a new poll. Please continue the discussion at Saul’s original post. Thanks!

Daniel Elstein from University of Leeds gave a talk recently at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar on “Is there a normative question and if so, how can it be answered?” Here is an abstract of his talk:

A neglected debate in metaethics is between Kantian and Humean expressivists. Kantian expressivists like Korsgaard hold that there is a single normative question which metaethics must deal with, whereas Humeans like Blackburn hold that there are simply a slew of diverse normative questions, which are a matter for normative ethics rather than metaethics. I argue that that the counter-intuitive Kantian position can be defended by considering Copp’s normative regress argument, and I try to show how to understand Kant’s argument for the categorical imperative as a plausible response to this threat of normative regress.

I’d like to draw your attention to the following:

The UT-Austin philosophy department is pleased to announce a week-long
graduate student workshop on philosophical methodology, August 12 –
August 16.

Possible workshop subtopics include (but are not limited to)
intuition, conceptual analysis, reflective equilibrium, reduction, and
ontological commitment.

Already confirmed speakers include Julia Driver (Washington University/St. Louis), Marc Moffett (Wyoming), Roy Sorensen (Washington University/St. Louis), Ernest Sosa (Rutgers), and a number of UT faculty.

We hope to accept around 10 outside graduate student participants. If
you are interested in applying, please see our website for details:

I’ve been looking through the recent issue of Analysis. It has 13 papers, of which one is on meta-ethics, and there’s nothing in either normative or applied ethics. This is a fairly typical showing. There are occasional papers on free will (which is a distinct topic, combining metaphysics and ethics), but very little ethics as such, and (my focus here) hardly any normative or, indeed, applied ethics. Why? And why does this matter?

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