Within many communities and religions, including the LDS community, there is some controversy surrounding the use of stem cells – particularly embryonic stem cells (ESC). Much of this controversy arises from confusion and misconceptions about what stem cells actually are, where they come from , and when life begins. The theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has interesting implications for the last of these considerations, and it becomes less a question of “when does life begin” and more an exploration of “when does personhood begin” or “when does the spirit enter the body.” With no official Church stance, statements from Church leaders vary on this topic, and this first section of the thesis explores the philosophical and practical meaning of personhood with a biological background intended for those not familiar with the origin or uses of stem cells.The second portion of the thesis explores possible cloning technologies. Recent events and advances address the possibility of cloning endangered and extinct species. The ethics of these types of cloning have considerations uniquely different from the type of cloning commonly practiced. Cloning of cheetahs (and other endangered or vulnerable species) may be ethically appropriate, given certain constraints. However, the ethics of cloning extinct species varies; for example, cloning mammoths and Neanderthals is more ethically problematic than conservation cloning, and requires more attention. Cloning Neanderthals in particular is likely unethical and such a project should not be undertaken. It is important to discuss and plan for the constraints necessary to mitigate the harms of conservation and extinct cloning, and it is imperative that scientific and public discourse enlighten and guide actions in the sphere of cloning.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Biology



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Document Type





embryonic stem cells (ESC), personhood, spirit, body, in vitro fertilization (IVF), deontology, moral status, cloning, extinct, endangered, conservation, ethics, utilitarianism, somatic cell nuclear transfer



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Biology Commons