Professor Emeritus, Program of Liberal Studies and Department of History
Office: 543B Flanner Hall
As a historian and philosopher of life science, Philip Sloan has been particularly interested in the issues surrounding the concept of life, modern genetics, and ethical and theological questions raised by the development of the life sciences from both a historical and philosophical perspective.
He was a primary organizer for the Notre Dame conference on the Human Genome Project in 1995, with the conference papers published in the volume Controlling Our Destinies: Historical, Philosophical, Ethical, and Theological Perspectives on the Human Genome Project (Notre Dame, 2000).
He has published widely on issues in the history and philosophy of life science. In recent years he has participated in several discussions and workshops on the issues surrounding stem cell research, human cloning, and ethically-acceptable alternative means of obtaining stem cells. He is currently working on a major book on the conception of life in modern biophysics, with implications of these theoretical developments for stem cell research.
The advance of medical and biotechnology bearing on stem cell research has opened up new avenues for alternative non-embryonic means of obtaining stem cell lines. Catholic bioethics neither prohibits nor discourages research into such alternatives as long as they do not involve destructive embryo research. With the developments of such alternatives of the kind that will be pursued on the Notre Dame campus, many of the divisive issues that have surrounded stem cell research can be resolved.
To assist in this scientific work, he will be contributing to interdisciplinary work in theology, ethical theory, philosophy, history, and legal theory that is needed to work out the foundation and rationale for these alternative means as the preferred form of stem cell research. He is engaged with this enterprise through a combined historical and philosophical analysis of the issues surrounding developmental biology and their relation to the stem cell debates.
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