Crossing Point: Respect for Form
We close the ethical considerations with a discussion of “personhood,” “human,” and “life,” each which differ in their legal, social, scientific, religious, and philosophical implications. For example, “personhood” stands in both the juridical and moral categories. These distinctions are crucial in discussions about legal or moral rights, each of which in turn requires definition and context. We discuss the term “life form” rather than person, personhood, or human to encompass all the various stages of human development, as well as so-called organoids, tiny clumps of organ-like tissue that can self-assemble from human stem cells in a petri dish, and life that may be chimeric in form, i.e., which include human organs and other instantiated human genetic material. In arguing the prudence of patenting life forms, we must not only consider positive law or legislation but natural law as well.