I was asked to say something on the question above last week in one seminar with professors Anne Kull, Toivo Maimets, Christine Hauskeller.
Here is my line of thoughts on this:
¤ The direct answer to this concrete question can be that we are biological cell-format creatures or more philosophically some realisers of some C(arbon)-based ontology.
¤ Sciences with their collected knowledge have among other things permanently influenced a rather commonsensical position about natural course of things (naturalism argument). In the most extreme and rather philosophical version what is possible, is also natural, but sciences also claim sometimes about unnatural things. The naturalism argument is very influential in bioethics, e.g. in debates on the beginning of life, reproductive technologies, stem cells, genetic modifications etc.
¤ A very much neglected question is moral status of a single cell as the unit of life. Usually it doesn’t have any moral status in modern everyday life and sciences.
¤ There are 2 main tracks in the bioethics of biotechnology:
Idealist or conservative approach and pragmatic approach. The first is based mostly on very special and permanent status of certain principle or value, for example very often human dignity. The second one is open to different changes and shifts and is based on benefit/risk assessment. The history has shown that generally some modest pragmatism has been the real
¤ How to find a proper way being on these tracks in concrete situations?
Both we all individually and our social groups should have cognitive and decisive abilities and bioethics is an important way social regulation therefore our decisions about genes and cells should be based on good knowledge and democratic decision making process. Democratic process can sometimes be quite difficult and influenced by not true contentful arguments, overselling and targeted rhetorics like Solbakk and Holm have expressed it in 2008.