God and Reason / Biotechnology & Morality, Part V

Who Are the Real Aristotelians? A Response to Edward J. Furton

Adrian J. Walker

"The real bone of contention . . . is whether or not there is anything like an Aristotelian nature."


In a defense of Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming (OAR) that recently appeared in the pages of The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly,1 Edward Furton, the journal’s editor, replies to what he regards as “some ill-conceived objections to this proposal raised by the editors of Communio.”2 In particular, Furton singles out my essay “A Way Around the Cloning Objection Against ANT?”3 which he roundly criticizes on three counts: (1) it is a polemical attack on the supporters of OAR; (2) it betrays an erroneous understanding of the science underlying OAR; (3) it reflects an anti-scientific obscurantism whose commitment to shady philosophical a prioris translates into disregard for experimental evidence. I respectfully submit that he is both wrong on all three of the charges that he brings against me and that he has missed the point of my argument. In the present essay, then, I would like to offer a reply to his attempted rebuttal of me (section 1), followed by a brief restatement of my diagnosis of what I think is the conceptual flaw inherent in OAR and, indeed, in every conceivable form of ANT (section 2). In the course of my argument, I hope to make it clear that my objections to ANT-OAR are serious questions formulated from within a commitment to the very Aristotelian-Thomistic natural philosophy from which Furton wrongly accuses me of departing.4



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