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Are chimeras ‘natural’? Disgust, ethics and ‘nature’

Gonzalez-Arnal, Stella

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Abstract

In this chapter I argue, against Mary Midgley, that the ‘yuk’ feeling that is elicited by chimeras should not be taken into account when making moral evaluations of the kind of biotechnology that creates them (‘algeny’, according to Midgley). She links the ‘yuk’ feeling with the unnaturalness of chimeras and biotechnology (as algeny). I show how, according to current biological theories regarding evolution,
chimeras are not ‘unnatural’. Then I analyse the relationship that Midgley establishes between ‘the yuk’ feeling, moral evaluations and the creation of chimeras and show: that non-moral disgust elicitors influence our moral evaluations, and that the kind of ‘yuk feeling’ that chimeras elicit is likely to be non-moral disgust; that this disgust is the product of well entrenched prejudices; and that disgust resists rationalization and is an example of ‘magical’ thinking. I argue that for these reasons, disgust and the ‘yuk feeling’ should not be taken into
account in our moral evaluations regarding the creation of chimeras. Finally I show that it is necessary to distinguish between moral disgust directed towards biotechnology (as algeny) and moral disgust directed towards chimeras as, even if the former could be justified, the later would not be and it could be harmful for chimeras.

Publication Date 2015
Pages 107-127
Series Title Probing the boundaries
Edition First
Book Title Making Humans: Religious, Technological and Aesthetic Perspectives
ISBN ISBN: 978-1-84888-425-0
Institution Citation Gonzalez-Arnal, S. (2015). Are chimeras ‘natural’? Disgust, ethics and ‘nature’. In A. D. Ornella (Ed.), Making Humans: Religious, Technological and Aesthetic Perspectives, 107-127. Inter-Disciplinary Press
Keywords Disgust, moral disgust, chimeras, unnatural, biotechnology, monstruosity.