The debate that surrounds the application of embryonic stem cell research is intense and passionately fought, but is in fact just a small part of the wider issue of the role that medical research plays in the contemporary age. Apart from the debate that surrounds its purpose and ethical characteristics, there is also criticism of the amount of public revenue that is invested into it for a supposedly negligible return.
Medical research is something that has the potential to create vast improvements in the living condition and prosperity of those afflicted by illness, and as such has remained a significant beneficiary of public funding. Though the investigations and swathes of research that have been conducted have not necessarily made significant steps towards curing long term ailments, the continued and unrelenting pace of scientific progression suggests that this breakthrough is not especially far away.
Natural Selection vs. Scientific AdvancementsThe supposed lack of tangible results is not actually the main reason cited for opposition to investment in medical research, and it is in fact a moral principle which creates the most significant objection. This is based on the potential eradication of natural selection, which has for years been the single most influential regulator of global and national population. It is the natural process of death that forms part of the cycle of existence, and helps keep the world from the perils of mass poverty and over population.
The concern remains however that science and technology will soon advance to the point where they are able to reign supreme over the natural order, and ultimately abolish the only objective and uncontrolled governor of social circumstance. Should this become the case, illness and disease would slowly become eradicated from the fabric of life, reducing the number of deaths significantly and potentially creating an issue of mass over population.
This argument becomes intensified when it concerns embryonic stem cell research, because this goes beyond simply using scientific knowledge to overwhelm nature. Instead, this type of research actually manipulates nature and uses it as a tool to combat natural selection, and raises a serious issue of ethics in the process. Not only is the creation, manipulation or destruction of life prohibited as a government funded venture, but it is also viewed by many as a dangerous mistreatment of nature and natural selection.
Pushing the Boundaries of Nature
If you adhere to the school of thought that considers disease and illness to be the natural moderators of society and population, then seeking to prevent them is potentially divisive and against the will of natural selection. This belief is founded in the notion that there is a natural order and cycle of life that has existed since the dawn of time, and that tampering with this is an act too far in terms of pushing the boundaries and regulations of nature.
The Interests of Society Against Those of the IndividualWhat is clear is that while medical research and subsequent advancement may improve the quality and longevity of individual life, it could also do immense damage to the function of society for the next generation and beyond. This fact needs to be considered by a government when looking to evaluate medical research as a public concern, as it is the interests of society rather than the subjective individual that should dictate the actions of elected servants and leaders.
As with any belief or opinion, your view may well be influenced by the effects of personal experience. Any individual who has lost someone through an illness would probably demand that the government prioritise the funding of medical research above most other concerns, but this does not necessarily take into account the potential consequences of over population and the triumph of scientific application over nature. While we all deserve a certain quality of existence, the question remains as to whether this should come at the expense of future generations.