seat of the soul

Last time, we discussed head transplants and how philosophers are gearing up to address the ethical implications. Many pages and scholarly brain waves were spent in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine. What use were these ruminations? Are they valid considerations, even if the basic scientific premise is faulty? Or is this another example of asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? More importantly, what does this tell us about our capacity to resolve complex bioethical issues around new biotech?
Once upon a time, novel conceits of humanoid creation were strictly relegated to the world of fantasy or the imagination. Frankenstein’s monster resided peacefully alongside Mr. Hyde and the Headless Horseman in the pages of storybooks, and the Golem remained buried in Talmudic lore. If there was any moralizing, it was – don’t go there. No longer. Last month the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy devoted an entire issue to the ethics and philosophy of head transplants. What does this recent symposium tell us about our moral and ethical compass?