Ontological and Ethical Implications of Direct Nuclear Reprogramming: Response to Magill and Neaves


The paper by Magill and Neaves in this issue of the Journal attempts to rebut the "natural potency" position, based on recent advances in direct reprogramming of somatic cells to yield "induced pluripotent stem" (iPS) cells. As stated by the authors, the natural potency position holds that because "a human embryo directs its own integral organismic function from its beginning . . . there is a whole, albeit immature, and distinct human organism that is intrinsically valuable with the status of inviolability and deserving full moral respect" (p. 26). The authors boldly assert that "The recent production of iPS . . . highlights a prima facie absurdity for the natural potentiality argument" (p. 29). Yet the argument against natural potency is both logically flawed and based on a characterization of the scientific evidence that is factually inaccurate.