Uploaded by Tim Lange

Syls ding

I would like to start with a general introduction. What are we going to talk about? As you were
already able to see, we’re going to talk about the these ‘we are morally responsible for the life we
create’. A these that might seem obvious, especially if you think about the book we had to read,
but that’s also way more sophisticated that you would say at first sight. There are many different
aspects and many different nuances that make this these an interesting and philosophical
dilemma. Of course, since I’m a philosopher to be myself, a theses like this immediately caught my
Today we’re going to talk about the following topics:
First we will take a closer look at the these. Before we even try to formulate a standpoint
on this matter, it’s important to have some consensus on how we define ‘life’. We’ll also
take a look at the form of life we’re dealing with in The modern Prometheus.
Second, we will discuss different moral positions in different fields of professions. We’ll
take a closer look at bio-ethical principles on life and the way these principles apply to the
monster of Frankenstein. Furthermore, we will take a look at what it means to have moral
We will finish with the discussion lead by master Eric. We’ll try to come up with a
Some might say that this these is about all forms of life, even individual cells. Others might say that
artificial intelligence programs are also part of this these. For the sake of the discussion, I will only
focus on the aspects that matter in this these.
Scientist have found many characteristics of live. I’ll point out to you the four most important
Metabolism: the ability to take in energy from surroundings to keep going
Self-regulation: also known as "homeostasis," an organism's ability to regulate itself
to maintain stability
Reproduction: the ability to create copies, allowing life to preserve itself and go on
Adaptation: the ability to change from generation to generation and become better
suited to environments
Question to the public: considering these characteristics, would an artificial intelligence program
suffice as life?  this is very debatable, but looking at technology right now, I would say no.
This is relevant to know for our these, because without a clear definition of life, we would not even
have consensus on where to start a discussion.
Would Frankenstein’s monster meet the requirements of life? The creature was made out of dead
body parts. We could say that the monster’s body is dead. But does that mean that the monster is
not alive? In some way, we are able to argue that Frankenstein’s monster is in fact alive. At least, it
seems so. The monster can think for itself and can provide for itself. The interesting part here is
that it is the moral consciousness that makes me say the monster is alive. His body might not be
alive, the creature does have a consciousness that makes him a moral being.
Now that we found what ‘life’ means, there is another interesting dilemma. That concerns moral
‘life’. When can we speak for a being to be ‘moral’? Philosophy gives us many different answers to
this question.
Moral responsibility is a difficult philosophical debate. There are many different positions, from
ones that deny any form of moral responsibility to the ones that say we are even responsible for the
acts of others. Despite this incredibly sophisticated debate, I will explain the position reason
responsiveness. This is a position that has been defended by the most philosophers:
People are morally responsible when they possess the capacity to answer moral reasons. For a
person to be reasons-responsive, it must possess two qualities:
1. Moral understanding: de capacity to understand moral considerations;
2. Self-control: the capacity to see ourselves in the light of those moral considerations.
Until now, we have been talking about whether Frankenstein is morally responsible for creating the
monster or not. However, Shelly’s work covers more moral themes. We should also talk about the
responsibilities one has after creating life, and that is where the real moral failure of Victor
Frankenstein happened. The real moral failure was not in creating the monster, but in failing to
meet or even consider the moral obligations he had to it. Frankenstein did not even bother to name
his creature after creating it.
Most philosophers agree on our moral obligations to acknowledge the moral status of other beings.
Frankenstein refused to acknowledge his duties to his creation. Frankenstein’s creature was a
morally conscious being. We learn to know that he is very sensitive, only looking for companionship.
He learns to speak several languages, references classic literature, and reveals that he is a
vegetarian for ethical reasons. It seems intuitive that the creature has some moral standing that is
never recognized.
The lesson we can learn from this, is that our moral obligations go further once we decide to create
Are we morally responsible for the life we create? Well, I would like to make a little nuance. We can
divide this these in two different interpretations.
1. We are morally responsible for creating life  in this case I would argue that we are in fact
morally responsible. After all, creating life is not something we unconsciously do. When we
intend to create life, like in scientific experiments, we make the moral choice to do that.
We considerate different points of views and – assuming that we have free will – are
responsible for the choice that we make. So, we are morally responsible for the act of
creating life.
2. We are morally responsible for the actions of the life we created  However, the matter is
way more complicated when we say we are morally responsible for the actions of the life
we created. This leads to very interesting implications. Say the former these is in fact
correct. What would that mean if God existed. If there existed a God, that created us, we
could never be morally responsible. After all, our actions are Gods responsibility. Besides
that, I think it’s important to know whether the life we created is conscious or not. If we
create a form of life that is capable of making its own moral decisions, how can we be
morally responsible for the choices they make?
In the first case, Frankenstein would be morally responsible. After all, he consciously and
intentionally created the monster. The monster did terrible things. Can we say that these terrible
things are eventually to blame on Frankenstein, since he created the monster? Here it gets tricky.
Some might say yes. After all, Frankenstein could have known that there was a risk his project
would turn out to be a monster. However, I would argue the opposite. The middle part of the book
is written from the perspective of the monster itself. Therefore we are very well capable of
knowing the monster’s emotions and thoughts. It seems that Frankenstein’s monster knew very well
what he was doing and therefore is morally responsible for its own actions.
we are morally
responsible for the life
we create
Interpretation 2: We are
morally responsible for
the actions of the life we
Interpretation 1: We are
morally responsible for
creating life
Moral responsibility exists
Moral responsibility does
not exist (e.g. we do not
have free will)
Moral responsibility does
not exist (e.g. we do not
have free will)
Moral responsibility exists
The life we created are
morally conscious beings
No/to some extend
The life we created are
not morally conscious
Do you think Frankenstein’s monster was reasons-responsive?
One of Mary Shelly’s morals is that it is important to acknowledge your moral obligations to the
life you created. Are you to blame if you would not be able to fulfill those obligations?
o Are parents that live in poverty, and know in advance there circumstances won’t change
any time soon, morally blamable when they have children?
When we take a look at the nurture-nature debate, we see that moral behavior is something you
learn from your caretakers. To what extend can we blame the creator of a living being, when
this living being behaves immorally?
o Who is morally responsible for the Monster’s actions? The Monster itself or Frankenstein?
Is the creation of artificial life morally significant? (nih.gov)
Bioethics and the Character of Human Life (thenewatlantis.com)
240217 (srce.hr) The Concept of Life in Modern Medical Ethics and Bioethics
Moral Responsibility (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Life and the Ethics of Responsibility | Center for Humans & Nature (humansandnature.org)
‘U bent mijn schepper…' - Filosofie Magazine
The ethics issue: Should we let synthetic life forms loose? | New Scientist
Ethical and philosophical challenges in synthetic biology (researchoutreach.org)
The Ethics Of Creating Synthetic Life : NPR
The other moral in Frankenstein and how to apply it to human brains and reanimated pigs - Big
Why issues raised in Frankenstein still matter 200 years later | Stanford Medicine
Moral And Ethical Dilemmas In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein | ipl.org