Journal of Applied Ethics and Philosophy;vol. 14


Some Perspectives on Moral Status of Human Brain Organoids : With Focus on Consciousness and the “We” as Humans

Yokoro, Yoshiyuki

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JaLCDOI : 10.14943/jaep.14.1
KEYWORDS : organoids;moral status;consciousness;family membership;speciesism


Human brain organoids are three-dimensional structures that reproduce the structure and function of the human brain in vitro . In this paper, I focus on the question of the moral status future human brain organoids will occupy. It is generally believed that the moral status a being occupies depend on sentience it possesses. However, in this paper, I argue that the presence or absence of a “consciousness” other than sentience may also have moral importance in the light of the features that seem to be unique to human brain organoids, and assert that a new perspective on whether human brain organoids belong to “we” or not may be necessary for thinking abstractly about how they should be treated morally. I argue that even if future human brain organoids lack sentience, they can occupy a moral status when they have so-called phenomenal or access consciousness. On the other hand, I argue that as long as future human brain organoids are as much a part of the “we” in terms of family membership as patients in a persistent vegetative state are. This would imply that even if human brain organoids do not have any kinds of consciousnesses, they may occupy some moral status.