Stem Cell Research Controversy
In principle, the basis for opposition to the use of embryonic stem cells is religious belief: specifically, the religious belief that human life begins at conception. This objection is perfectly valid as a personally held belief or a personal position of opposition to embryonic stem cell research. However, it is a completely unjustified basis for decisions about law and government policy in the United States because the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution expressly forbids the entanglement of church and state (Dershowitz, 2002).
The opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research violates fundamental constitutional principles, biological science, and common sense. That is specifically because it assigns full human status and claim to human rights to a fertilized ovum despite the fact that it may consist of nothing but four individual cells. Those cells are not “alive” in any logical sense; nor are they any more “human” just because of their genetic code than a flake of dandruff (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009).
The ethical implications of formulating federal policy based on religious beliefs were directly responsible for retarding research progress in the U.S. For approximately eight years, at the expense of millions who could have benefited from uninterrupted progress in important areas of stem-cell science. Meanwhile, it is already obvious that stem-cell-based technology in medicine will eventually enable modern medicine to cure some of the most important health problems that have so far resisted effective treatment (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009). Frankly, it is a travesty not to make use of obvious sources of fetal stem cell material such as the thousands of fertilized embryos routinely discarded by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics that always create many more embryos than they can actually use (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009).
Beauchamp, T.L. And Childress, J.F. (2009). Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 6th
Edition. Oxford University Press.
Dershowitz, a. (2002). Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age. New York:
Little Brown & Co.
COMPUTER USE in MODERN EDUCATION
Undoubtedly, computers have changed modern education. Among other things, they permit distance learning and academic research from remote locations. They also present several important ethical concerns that were never issues before the computer age, such as plagiarism and even communications intended to cheat during in-class exams (Li & Irby, 2008). Likewise, the use of computers for distance learning also raises issues of the relative quality of various academic programs since online programs are much less capable of being monitored and evaluated for quality and academic integrity than traditional “on-site” academic institutions (Trotter, 2008).
One of the negative consequences of the use of computers in education is that they can be misused as excuses for failing to complete and submit assignments on time in a digital-age form of the age-old “my dog ate my homework” story. Institutions of higher education (and high schools) try to counter this contingency by making sure that students understand that it is always their responsibility to maintain the necessary common sense protocols such as backup systems and files to minimize or prevent some of the most common problems capable of being caused by reliance on computer systems. However, it is probably impossible to rule out certain types of breakdowns that, if true, would (or should) be considered valid excuses for late assignments. On the other hand, allowing those types of excuses without limitations would be the digital equivalent of accepting the “my dog ate my homework” story all the time.
Ultimately, no matter how explicit the rules and codes of conduct are, there will always be potential for situations where students may have a legitimate excuse based on computer technology breakdowns. At some point, professors will always have to rely on their objective determination of whether or not specific excuses are likely to be true or untrue. In that respect, even the most advanced computer systems cannot change the fact that much of the basis of academic honesty and integrity is a matter of human action and personal values rather than technology.
Li, C, and Irby, B. “An overview of online education: attractiveness, benefits, challenges, concerns and recommendations” College Student Journal; Jun/08.
Trotter, a. “Voluntary Online Teaching Standards Come Amid Concerns over Quality”
Education Week; Mar 5/08.
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