Emily Zehnder

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

History and Philosophy

First Advisor

Richard Nation

Second Advisor

Ronald Delph


Few issues in bioethics inspire controversy and garner headlines like human embryonic stem cell research. This cutting-edge research can be at once confusing, exciting, and disturbing. Scientists eagerly tout the potentially life-saving therapies this research could produce, giving hope to the millions who suffer from debilitating diseases and to their loved ones. However, to obtain these longed-for miracles of modern science, human embryos must be destroyed. And many people object to this aspect of the research. Despite being sympathetic to those who suffer, these people do not believe that any benefits merit the large-scale destruction of what they consider to be a unique individual human life. Others believe that the embryo, though deserving of respect, should never be equated with a developed human person in a way that precludes its use to potentially benefit humanity. Most people seem to be caught somewhere in the middle. They are pulled in two directions— between helping people and protecting life—and it is this pull that characterizes the debate over stem cell research.