Eastern versus Western bioethics

Religion / Science

The New York Times Science section has an article on the ways that Western religion and philosophy create limitations and restrictions for doing biological research that are present in asian countries:

“While critics on the right and the left fret about the morality of stem-cell research and genetic engineering, prominent Western scientists have been going to Asia, like the geneticists Nancy Jenkins and Neal Copeland, who left the National Cancer Institute and moved last year to Singapore.

Asia offers researchers new labs, fewer restrictions and a different view of divinity and the afterlife. In South Korea, when Hwang Woo Suk reported creating human embryonic stem cells through cloning, he did not apologize for offending religious taboos. He justified cloning by citing his Buddhist belief in recycling life through reincarnation.

…‘Asian religions worry less than Western religions that biotechnology is about ‘playing God,’’ says Cynthia Fox, the author of ‘Cell of Cells,’ a book about the global race among stem-cell researchers. ‘Therapeutic cloning in particular jibes well with the Buddhist and Hindu ideas of reincarnation.’”

I suppose this is obvious, but it news to me that the labs are already starting move offshore. The article goes on to provide more details about the background of the east-west divide and the way this is playing itself out.

Read the rest here.

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. China in particular is very attractive to business because there is almost no regulation; that’s what I’ve been hearing for about 10 years now, anyway.

  2. Is that a cultural thing do you think? Or does it is related to religion in anyway I wonder? Or lack?
    I’m thinking cultural more likely. I’ve been reading about the long standing chinese tradition of cutting corners in manufacturing at least back a couple of centuries.

  3. I don’t really know, but I’d think it’s at least partly because China jumped quickly from a rural agricultural society to (today) a highly urban manufacturing one. And also because it’s been totalitarian all the while, which would mean there likely aren’t many viable movements for rights or protection.
    And because it’s a really big country, also, and I think lots of places are still kind of “wild West”-ish.
    But I could be totally wrong about all of that!

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