Do Embryos Have Interests? Why Embryos Are Identical to Future Persons but Not Harmed by Death

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 9 (1):57-66 (2012)
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Are embryos deserving of moral consideration in our actions? A standard view suggests that embryos are considerable only if they have interests. One argument for embryonic interests contends that embryos are harmed by death because they are deprived of valuable future lives as adult persons. Some have challenged this argument on the grounds that embryos aren’t identical to adults: either due to the potential for embryos to twin or because we do not exist until the fetus develops consciousness. These arguments fail to show that embryos do not have future adult lives. There is a better reason to think that embryos cannot have interests; namely, because they are not capable of having desires. Others have held this view but have not sufficiently justified it. The justification lies in the fact that the capacity for desires is necessary to make sense of the normativity of interests.
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