Great importance is attached to, and great controversy surrounds, biotechnology generally and stem cell research more specifically, particularly human embryonic stem cell research. Given its position at the vanguard of innovations in theoretical and applied human healthcare science, and as a source of political conflict and achievement, it is useful to examine attitudes toward, and actions around, embryonic stem cell research. This article conceives of three discursive typologies and explores their deployment in three different settings or sites in the life or progress of embryonic stem cell research, namely, the political (determining legal boundaries), the hybrid (identifying and enforcing boundaries for laboratory research), and the administrative (enforcing boundaries in the commercial context), the intention being to determine whether these typologies are consistent and what moral values their use supports. This article concludes that the typologies are deployed to varying degrees in the different sites, and with varying degrees of success. Although this might be expected, and not altogether unwarranted, given the different roles and objectives of the primary institutions at each site, the current prevalence of the typologies suggests that these institutions might not be operating optimally from the democracy enhancement and transparency points of view.
- human fertilisation and embryology authority
- stem cells
- european patent office