University of Utah
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2011
Albany, New York, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Philosophy of Biology
Biomedical Ethics
  •  307
    Depression is a widespread and debilitating disorder, but developing effective treatments has proven challenging. Despite success in animal models, many treatments fail in human trials. While various factors contribute to this translational failure, standardization practices in animal research are often overlooked. This paper argues that certain standardization choices in behavioral neuroscience research on depression can limit the generalizability of results from rodents to humans. This raises …Read more
  •  846
    Translation failure occurs when a treatment shown to be safe and effective in one type of population does not produce the same result in another. We are currently in a crisis involving the translatability of preclinical studies to human populations. Animal trials are no better than a coin toss at predicting the safety and efficacy of drugs in human trials, and the high failure rate of drugs entering human trials suggests that most of the suffering of laboratory animals is futile, creating no com…Read more
  •  140
    Clarifying the Ethics and Oversight of Chimeric Research
    with Josephine Johnston, Insoo Hyun, Carolyn P. Neuhaus, Karen J. Maschke, Patricia Marshall, Kaitlynn P. Craig, Margaret M. Matthews, Kara Drolet, Henry T. Greely, Lori R. Hill, Amy Hinterberger, Elisa A. Hurley, Robert Kesterson, Jonathan Kimmelman, Nancy M. P. King, Melissa J. Lopes, P. Pearl O'Rourke, Brendan Parent, Steven Peckman, May Schwarz, Jeff Sebo, Chris Stodgell, Robert Streiffer, and Amy Wilkerson
    Hastings Center Report 52 (S2): 2-23. 2022.
    This article is the lead piece in a special report that presents the results of a bioethical investigation into chimeric research, which involves the insertion of human cells into nonhuman animals and nonhuman animal embryos, including into their brains. Rapid scientific developments in this field may advance knowledge and could lead to new therapies for humans. They also reveal the conceptual, ethical, and procedural limitations of existing ethics guidance for human‐nonhuman chimeric research. …Read more
  •  380
    Research guidelines for embryoids
    Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (12). 2021.
    Human embryo models formed from stem cells—known as embryoids—allow scientists to study the elusive first stages of human development without having to experiment on actual human embryos. But clear ethical guidelines for research involving embryoids are still lacking. Previously, a handful of researchers put forward new recommendations for embryoids, which they hope will be included in the next set of International Society for Stem Cell Research guidelines. Although these recommendations are an …Read more
  •  312
    Human Brain Surrogates: Models or Distortions?
    American Journal of Bioethics 21 (1): 66-68. 2021.
    Although neurological disease and mental illness can cause terrible human suffering, strategies for researching their causes and cures are not obvious. Invasive brain research on actual human being...
  •  510
    New discoveries are improving the odds of human cells surviving in host animals, prompting regulatory and funding agencies to issue calls for additional layers of ethical oversight for certain types of human–animal chimeras. Of interest are research proposals involving chimeric animals with humanized brains. But what is motivating the demand for additional oversight? I locate two, not obviously compatible, motivations, each of which provides the justificatory basis for paying special attention t…Read more
  •  414
    Research ethics committees must sometimes deliberate about objects that do not fit nicely into any existing category. This is currently the case with the “gastruloid,” which is a self-assembling blob of cells that resembles a human embryo. The resemblance makes it tempting to group it with other members of that kind, and thus to ask whether gastruloids really are embryos. But fitting an ambiguous object into an existing category with well-worn pathways in research ethics, like the embryo, is onl…Read more
  •  712
    Media reporters often announce that we are on the verge of bringing back the woolly mammoth, even while there is growing consensus among scientists that resurrecting the mammoth is unlikely. In fact, current “de-extinction” efforts are not designed to bring back a mammoth, but rather adaptations of the mammoth using close relatives. For example, Harvard scientists are working on creating an Asian elephant with the thick coat of a mammoth by merging mammoth and elephant DNA. But how should such c…Read more
  •  612
    Is ‘Assisted Reproduction’ Reproduction?
    Philosophical Quarterly 68 (270): 138-157. 2018.
    With an increasing number of ways to ‘assist’ reproduction, some bioethicists have started to wonder what it takes to become a genetic parent. It is widely agreed that sharing genes is not enough to substantiate the parent–offspring relation, but what is? Without a better understanding of the concept of reproduction, our thinking about parent–offspring relations and the ethical issues surrounding them risk being unprincipled. Here, I address that problem by offering a principled account of repro…Read more
  •  89
    The Second-Person Standpoint (review)
    Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (2): 142-146. 2007.
    The book is divided into four sections, and contains two central arguments. The goal of the first argument is to show that generally accepted concepts in moral theory have an irreducibly second-personal character and that it is impossible to fully understand many central moral ideas without it. Here, by evaluating a broad range of literature in moral theory and articulating the second-personal aspect of each, Darwall elaborates on the interpersonal nature of moral obligation. The detailed discus…Read more
  •  151
    What does it mean to be 75% pumpkin? The units of comparative genomics
    Philosophy of Science 76 (5): 838-850. 2009.
    Comparative genomicists seem to be convinced that the unit of measurement employed in their studies is a gene that drives the function of cells and ultimately organisms. As a result, they have come to some substantive conclusions about how similar humans are to other organisms based on the percentage of genetic makeup they share. I argue that the actual unit of measurement employed in the studies corresponds to a structural rather than a functional gene concept, thus rendering many of the implic…Read more
  •  98
    Genetics and Philosophy: An Introduction
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (2): 223-226. 2014.
    Much of the book is aimed at persuading the reader that genes are not ‘the prime movers in all biological processes’ and that ‘postgenomic genes’ are better understood in a functional sense, as ‘things an organism can do with its genome.' With the main argument in place, the authors examine its impact on a number of philosophical debates. I will discuss three of them: causation, information, and reduction.
  •  16
    The Second-Person Standpoint (review)
    Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (2): 142-146. 2007.
  •  37
    I am grateful to the authors who commented on my article (Piotrowska 2014) for their careful examination of my argument. They have presented a variety of stimulating ideas and suggestions, with which I largely agree and which I would like to discuss further, but in the interest of brevity, I shall try to concentrate only on points of contention.
  •  660
    The Theoretical Costs of DNA Barcoding
    Biological Theory 4 (3): 235-239. 2009.
    I begin with a description of the benefits and limits of DNA barcoding as presented by its advocates not its critics. Next, I argue that due to the mutually dependent relationship between defining and delimiting species, all systems of classification are grounded in theory, even if only implicitly. I then proceed to evaluate DNA barcoding in that context. In particular, I focus on the barcoders’ use of a sharp boundary by which to delimit species, arguing that this boundary brings along addition…Read more
  •  776
    Why is an Egg Donor a Genetic Parent, but not a Mitochondrial Donor?
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 28 (3): 488-498. 2019.
    What’s the basis for considering an egg donor a genetic parent but not a mitochondrial donor? I will argue that a closer look at the biological facts will not give us an answer to this question because the process by which one becomes a genetic parent, i.e., the process of reproduction, is not a concept that can be settled by looking. It is, rather, a concept in need of philosophical attention. The details of my argument will rest on recent developments in biological technology, but the persuasi…Read more
  •  89
    Transferring Morality to Human–Nonhuman Chimeras
    American Journal of Bioethics 14 (2): 4-12. 2014.
    Human–nonhuman chimeras have been the focus of ethical controversies for more than a decade, yet some related issues remain unaddressed. For example, little has been said about the relationship between the origin of transferred cells and the morally relevant capacities to which they may give rise. Consider, for example, a developing mouse fetus that receives a brain stem cell transplant from a human and another that receives a brain stem cell transplant from a dolphin. If both chimeras acquire m…Read more
  •  39
    According to Haber and Benham (2012), a sufficient condition for full moral consideration is that a creature bears a genealogical relation to the Homo sapiens lineage. Since part-humans do not bear such a relation, they are not due full moral consideration on that basis. Given this argument, my aim in this commentary is twofold. First, I want to challenge its soundness by showing that it is possible for part-humans to bear a genealogical relation to the H. sapiens lineage. Second, I want to argu…Read more
  •  80
    Extrapolation from a well-understood base population to a less-understood target population can fail if the base and target populations are not sufficiently similar. Differences between laboratory mice and humans, for example, can hinder extrapolation in medical research. Mice that carry a partial or complete human physiological system, known as humanized mice, are supposed to make extrapolation more reliable by simulating a variety of human diseases. But what justifies our belief that these mic…Read more