"Ought" proposal: The Case for Making Chimp-Human Hybrids


EXCERPT: It is a bit of a stretch, but by no means impossible or even unlikely that a hybrid or a chimera combining a human being and a chimpanzee could be produced in a laboratory. [...] the new gene-editing tool CRISPR offers the prospect [...] of adding and deleting targeted genes as desired. As a result, it is not unreasonable to foresee the possibility [...] of producing “humanzees” or “chimphumans.” Such an individual would not be an exact equal-parts-of-each combination, but would be neither human nor chimp: rather, something in between.

If that prospect isn’t shocking enough, here is an even more controversial suggestion: Doing so would be a terrific idea.

The year 2018 is the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s *Frankenstein*, subtitled the modern Prometheus. Haven’t we learned that Promethean hubris leads only to disaster, as did the efforts of the fictional Dr. Frankenstein? But there are also other disasters, currently ongoing, such as the grotesque abuse of nonhuman animals, facilitated by what might well be the most hurtful theologically-driven myth of all times: that human beings are discontinuous from the rest of the natural world, since we were specially created and endowed with souls, whereas “they”—all other creatures—were not.

[...] evolution’s most fundamental take-home message is continuity. And it is in fact because of continuity—especially those shared genes—that humanzees or chimphumans could likely be produced. Moreover, I propose that the fundamental take-home message of such creation would be to drive a stake into the heart of that destructive disinformation campaign of discontinuity, of human hegemony over all other living things. There is an immense pile of evidence already demonstrating continuity, including but not limited to physiology, genetics, anatomy, embryology, and paleontology, but it is almost impossible to imagine how the most die-hard advocate of humans having a discontinuously unique biological status could continue to maintain this position if confronted with a real, functioning, human-chimp combination....

MORE: http://nautil.us/issue/58/self/its-time-...mp-hybrids

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