Language, Logic, And The Beginning Of Human Being: Francis Collins’ Fallacies -- By: Hendrik van der Breggen
Language, Logic, And The Beginning Of Human Being:
Francis Collins’ Fallacies
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Providence University College
Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada
Abstract: Via his popular books—The Language of God and The Language of Life—Francis Collins, the current director of U.S. National Institutes of Health, attempts to persuade the general public that the human embryo is not a human being and thus its destruction (in publicly funded scientific research) is morally permissible. Collins, however, misuses language and misuses logic in his attempt to discern the beginning of human life. Because Collins’ NIH is presently killing human embryos mistakenly thinking they are not human beings (and is at time of writing contemplating animal/ human cross-species research using human embryos mistakenly thinking they are not human beings), this paper endeavors to point up and correct Francis Collins’ errors.
Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is current director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, former director of the Human Genome Research Institute, recipient of the U.S. National Medal of Science, plus author/co-author of the popular books The Language of God,1 The Language of Life,2 and The Language of Science and Faith.3 Clearly, when it comes to science and medicine, Francis Collins demonstrates a high level of professional competence.4 However, and sadly, when it comes to philosophical reasoning about the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, Dr. Collins steps outside his fields of expertise—and stumbles.5 In his popular book The Language of God, Collins sets out three arguments that purport to show the general public that the destruction of human embryos for embryonic stem cell research is not morally problematic. Collins’ first two arguments attempt to show that the human embryo is not a human being and thus does not have the moral status of a human person. Collins’ third argument is an appeal to the practicality or utility of using human embryos left over from in vitro fertilization. These three arguments form a philosophical foundation for Collins’ subsequent book The Language of Life.
In The Language of Life, subtitled DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, Collins envisions a practice of medicine which involves human embryonic stem cell research, that is, research involving the destruction of human embryos—human beings...
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