The Way We Do Bioethics

Professor S. Matthew Liao of NYU presented a paper last week at the Health Law, Bioethics, and Biotechnology Workshop. Liao’s theory of rights-worthiness is based on the presence of a genetic basis for a moral sense. So babies, fetuses, the vegetative, all are human rights-holders, other animals are presumptively not (but could be if we found they had the genes for moral sense) and, with a little line drawing about the nature of an organism, corpses are excluded.

It is, perhaps, a somewhat strained effort to justify a deep moral intuition that all human beings, no matter how brain-damaged, are entitled on their own merit to a full panoply of human rights.

Personally, I’m skeptical. Read More