The limits of medical technology

Earlier today I encouraged listeners to go and see the movie Never Let Me Go, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. As well as the gripping plot and deep emotional resonance (which is also evident in the novel), Never Let Me Go raises important ethical questions that deserve careful consideration, such as:

  • How could a humane, rights-based society arrive at a point where some people are regarded as non-persons to be used, and eventually killed, for the wellbeing of others?
  • What are the appropriate limits of medical technology, and personhood?
  • How is this different from our treatment of animals?

Given that Australia already permits human cloning, it’s not hard to imagine how so-called “therapeutic” cloning could be gradually broadened into wholesale “spare parts” cloning, and full-scale reproductive cloning.

But only if some of us are considered to be a means to an end rather than of intrinsic value.  We need to think very carefully about the direction in which medical technology is leading our society.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 3 April 2011.

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