Arnav Lal

Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow

20202021 Forum on Choice

Arnav Lal

Biophysics and Philosophy

CAS, 2023

Arnav is a sophomore studying Biophysics and Philosophy.  His philosophical areas of interest revolve around scientific topics of research, including genomics, microbiology, developmental biology and fertility.  Such biological materials and concepts carry nuanced fundamental philosophical questions that emerge as soon as interactions and decisions become involved. Arnav is a member of Penn’s Project for the Philosophy for the Young (P4Y), specifically pre-college philosophy mentoring and coordination of the Philadelphia High School Ethics Bowl. He is an active participant in Stouffer Steering, the student government of his college house. Additionally, as a 4th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, Arnav is a member of Penn Taekwondo Club. 

Biological Justice: Analyzing Choice Versus Responsibility of Human Embryo Utilization

For infertility clinics around the world, donor sperm and eggs have become a lifeline for patients who struggle to conceive a child. Yet, this is not an adequate solution for all couples. For patients who are fortunate enough to produce multiple viable embryos and subsequently conceive, the remaining embryos may procedurally be discarded. With increasing prevalence of infertility, this study aims to determine critical moral and ethical questions regarding distribution of unneeded embryos. Theories of justice circumvent issues of private property by allowing for unrestricted individual choice. However, it may be possible that reality may not be so simple, and the public/private, choice dichotomy is likely a gradient.  This study determines key biological aspects that control the level of choice, responsibility, and moral obligation involved in biological materials, and specifically what this implies for an idea such as potentially embryo distribution.