Object 3: Dolly the Sheep’s Stuffed Remains

May 27, 2021


Dolly the sheep is the product of the Roslin Institute’s experimentation on genetically modified stock. As she was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell, her situation offers food for thought on an ethical basis. More specifically, it promotes discussion on the arguably unethical practice that is animal experimentation, and the controversial subject of the manipulation of nature.

Animal experimentation is an exhaustively debated topic, as it puts the lives of living organisms in danger with low chances of success, solely to advance scientific knowledge. Another ethical concern that arises with cloning science is the concept of “playing God”. Many would argue that it is not our role as humans to seek to create life, or tamper with the purity of nature as it stands. The argument stands that meddling with nature extends the scope of human control beyond what we may be capable of handling, and that interfering with life in its natural state is unethical. This object is indispensable to the exhibition as it explicitly addresses humans’ desire to seek knowledge, despite having to set aside compelling ethical principles.

By proceeding with their experiments on Dolly the sheep, the scientists at Roslin Institute directly opposed the ethical absolutist approach, which holds that ethical code must be unyielding and forever unchanging regardless of the given circumstances. However, her birth was pivotal in the synthesis of personalised stem cells—more widely referred to as iPS cells—which are applied in multiple areas of medicine including gene therapy, disease modelling and drug discovery. Essentially, her situation encourages further introspection on the advancement of human knowledge at the expense of established ethical boundaries.

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