Chimeras, Science, and Fullmetal Alchemist

When the issue of chimeras arose in class, I couldn’t help but think of the Fullmetal Alchemist series. Within the series there are multiple human-animal chimeras:

Although the chimeras in the series were created through alchemy, certain parallels can be drawn between these ideas and current scientific research. The first chimera to appear in the series was a human-dog chimera, which was made for more or less the same reason Dr. Moreau made chimeras – simply for scientific knowledge (or in this case alchemic knowledge). This first chimera, along with many other chimeras in the series, were conveyed as abominations, and were shown to be in physical pain.

Perhaps the more interesting take on chimeras in the series, however, is the development of chimeras for military purposes. These chimeras, however, are substantially different from the earlier ones, in that they take on the shape of a human (and can selectively turn into a half human-animal), but they possess the characteristics of the animal which they were crossed with.

Although our understanding of genetics may not yet let us safely develop human chimeras, the issue of how this science progresses is crucial to determining the ethics of it. For example, the nuclear bomb was developed specifically for a detrimental purpose (i.e. the use of the bomb), however that doesn’t mean that the development of the science behind the functioning of the bomb is “unethical”. To me, the issue of this science lies does not lie in whether or not the science is ethical, but whether or not the purpose for exploring a certain idea is ethical. Therefore, I do not necessarily see a problem with exploring science simply to understand the knowledge, as long as the exploration of that knowledge has no negative basis. In other words, within the context of our class, I would see nothing wrong with exploring chimeras simply to obtain knowledge, just as I see no problem with exploring nuclear fission outside the context of developing weapons.



~ by xanthochroi on March 3, 2010.

One Response to “Chimeras, Science, and Fullmetal Alchemist”

  1. You are absoluately right. Scientific research is done to get a better understanding of the world. All the possible negative purposes can’t be foreseen or eliminated, but that doesn’t make the research itself unethical.

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