This past week’s lectures for regenerative medicine were arguably the coolest we’ve had this semester, although only one of them was actually about medicine. The first was on UK stem cell law, the last was cancer SCs, and the middle one was given by John Harris (the philosopher from Manchester) on the bioethics of our research. Really what we ended up talking about was the basis for a moral code, which was quite a lot of fun. What did get under my skin were some of the assumptions Dr. Harris made, including that there is an intrinsic reason why humans are more important than anything else, and that communication is the same as speech. As far as I can tell, morality is purely a matter of social context. It’s basically the code of cooperation we decide upon to maximize our own chances of survival and development. Over time, this code gets more convoluted and is more prominently aimed toward less immediate threats, but at heart it is the same structure that arises for dolphins, wolves, ants, even organ systems. There’s an elegance to it that amazes me.

We didn’t get that fundamental in the lecture, so the discrepancies between my reasoning and Dr. Harris’ are still nagging at me. However, there’s so much work on my desk that, instead of talking more about this, I’m going to try sitting on it for a few weeks until the last of my papers is turned in. See you then!