May 30, 2024

Italian bioethics chief gives UK philosophical raspberry

The UK’s new bank for embryonic stem cells represents the triumph of money over ethics, says the president of Italian National Committee of Bioethics, Dr Francesco D’Agostino. Research with embryonic stem cells may be ethically fraught, but it is certainly cheaper.

Speaking at a conference in Spain, Dr D’Agostino, who is a professor of the philosophy of law at Tor Vergata University in Rome, warned against “Anglo-Saxon” utilitarianism. “The only proper way to defend the dignity of the human person today is not to adopt a utilitarian point of view,” he declared.

In the English-speaking world, “the concept of the person has been identified with an autonomous subject which is fully capable of understanding and acting”. As a result, “they deny that foetuses, the aged, the handicapped and so on are persons with rights. Utilitarianism implies a calculus of convenience — you see which people deserve to be defended and which do not by measuring the cost.”