I. Culture/Media Item Link: This active learning assignment asks the students to contribute one culture/media item that is the focus point for this discussion post. To help demonstrate what a good “item” is, I recommend you select that one item from within three possible categories:
Three Categories (with examples for each category–NOTE that the below examples are just that–examples–of what constitutes a good item/topic; you must research/locate your own item/topic that is similar to the below examples):
A. news article, video, social media, or other
Example: “Belgian Paralympian Considers Euthanasia After Rio “Last Wish” http://en.as.com/en/2016/08/05/other_sports/1470406318_429354.html (Links to an external site.)
New Screening for Down Syndrom to increase abortions? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3733969/No-test-tell-just-joy-child-Families-tell-fears-99-accurate-s-test-spark-rise-abortions.html (Links to an external site.)
B. academic journal (professional or student)
Example: “Will Embryonic Stem Cells Ever Cure Anything?”
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602143/will-embryonic-stem-cells-ever-cure-anything (Links to an external site.)/
C. film/visual art/music sample or other
Examples of Bioethics Art: http://www.bioethicsart.org (Links to an external site.)
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Birth Mark”
Photo collage on Unheard Voices of Willowbrook: https://voicesinbioethics.org/2015/11/24/unheard-voices-of-willowbrook/ (Links to an external site.)
Your selected sample that you find on your own (similar to the above examples) should clearly raise an important bioethics topic/issue in today’s culture and media such as (but certainly not limited to): euthanasia, abortion, cloning, eugenics, research ethics, gene therapy, enhancement/therapy, informed consent, organ donation ethics, definitions of death, surrogacy, transhumanism, neuro-ethics, public health ethics, stem cell research, vaccination controversy, chimeras, alternative medicine, etc.
II. Essay Report (400-500 words–remember to list the number of words in your essay at the top/header of the essay): following the link to your sample, you will compose a complete one essay that includes…
a summary of the bioethics issue at hand in the culture/media sample, including any relevant history, context, or other pertinent information (i.e., think of any important details that you would provide for someone who had never heard of this particular topic).
an identification of the moral position-conclusion from the culture/media sample (or, if the conclusion is not evident, what conclusions (plural) are indicated). The focus here is to answer “what” is the culture/media sample stating is morally permissible or right.
an analysis of what is morally most important to the author/creator of the culture/media sample. In other words, what is the ultimate guideline for this person’s moral values? Analyzing this requires that you consider why the author has said/created what she has. The focus here is to answer “why” the author of the culture/media sample holds the moral position she/he does.
III. A peer-review comment of 50-100 words on a fellow student’s media/culture post. This enables students to gain further exposure to media/culture samples and to co-participate in the course evaluation process. You are welcome to comment and reply to as many of your peers as you’d like, but you should select at least one fellow student’s discussion answer from within your group to review. A number of studies have shown that peer assessment for online writing assignments is helpful for identifying writing strengths and weaknesses. As you read other students’ work, you can compare your writing to others who write very well; additionally, you will be able to offer constructive critiques for other students.
A good peer-review comment will highlight at least one point of agreement/disagreement and then at least one thoughtful “next step” or “what is the implication” question. In short, you have done your job reviewing and commenting on your peer group member’s post when you’ve answered the below three questions:
Clearly Relevant. Is the culture/media sample clearly relevant to important bioethics topics/issues/matters (with link included)?
Has the culture/media sample been summarized well in the paragraph report?
Ethics position identified: Has the paragraph report accurately identified the moral position or conclusion of the culture/media sample? Note: the focus here is on what ethics position has been promoted.
Ethics Analysis. Has the paragraph report analyzed the ultimate foundation or rational upon which the moral conclusion makes sense? Note: the focus here is on why the ethics positions at hand has this been promoted.
Do note: I encourage you not to be stiff or overly formal in your reviews. Don’t feel that you need to blandly rephrase the above questions to state “yes, John Doe’s culture sample is clearly relevant, etc.” This is not the goal of your review comment/s. Rather, your review should be personal, offering your thoughts sincerely for your classmate. Think of things that will challenge them, or things that will help them think deeper on the issue, especially if there are considerations they have left out. Ask questions and raise matters they may have missed (ie, “what about X consideration? How would that affect your analysis and answer?”). The point of this assignment is not busy work but rather to allow you to reflect together on important ethical questions.
this is the peer review to comment on:
Word Count: 447
This article discusses the chimera— a monkey embryo containing human cells. The first part-primate chimera was created to better understand how these two different kinds of cells develop in comparison to one another. The process involves the injection of human stem cells into embryos of a macaque monkey, which are then grown for twenty days before destruction. These chimeras consist of animal bodies with human organs or other characteristics. The goal scientists have sought after is using these chimeras to better understand treatment of human disease such as Alzheimer’s and possibly even provide organs for human transplants. The end goal would be to harvest human organs from pigs but creating part-pig chimeras has been unsuccessful thus far, so scientists thought to perfect the science in monkeys first, which resemble humans more closely. The conflict here, though, is the fact that these hybrids are part-human and part-animal… so how do we treat the: as animals, or as humans? If human, how are we ethically allowed to experiment on them, but if animal, isn’t experimentation acceptable?
When it comes to part-primate chimeras, the brain capacity would be more similar to that of a human being rather than the typical monkey. This increased mental capacity thereby increases the moral status of the being, or concept of treating life forms according to their interests and capacities. If scientists wanted to genetically engineer the human stem cells to prohibit them from becoming brain cells, then the purpose of using chimeras for brain disease studies such as Alzheimer’s would be essentially pointless.
The author of this article does a good job of writing without much of an opinion at first in order to give all of the information to the reader to process. At the end of the article, the author does say that “seeing as we’re already struggling with issues of equality between human beings, it would seem we’re poorly prepared for the ethical challenges presented by future advances in chimera research” (Porto, p. 1). From this statement, I would presume they do not think the chimera an ethical scientific endeavor. From other passages within the article, the author describes something they call the “yuk factor” that applies to research causing moral disgust, so they do associate this research with a negative connotation. I think the author struggles with the idea that the part-primate chimera would have a significantly more developed brain, similar to that of humans, than other chimeras created and researched in the past. I, too, find this a hard idea to grapple with. Although important research could be conducted with this development, I think the line will quickly become quite blurry if scientists start conducting experiments on human-like chimeras.
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