Human cloning is an issue involved in much debate, with the majority view being that cloning should not be allowed to continue. While the argument against human cloning is persuasive, it is also an argument based on fear and misunderstanding rather than reality. The negative view of human cloning is based on a negative perception of it based almost entirely in speculation. A closer view of the argument against cloning will show the errors inherent in it. Rather than react to the issue based on negative perceptions of cloning, it is necessary that the reality of cloning be considered, with its real impact investigated rather than a speculative impact based on misunderstanding.
One author argues that the entire cloning debate is argued out of context, with the reality of cloning substituted for a science fiction view of the issue. As the author says, cloning,
Has come to typify everything suspicious about embryo research, with pictures conjured up by the ignorant of whole football teams of identical, all-conquering players, and of millionaires paying out fortunes for a perverted sort of immortality" (Edwards 91).
This author's view argues that there is a significant gap between the reality of cloning and the perception of cloning, with the issue being argued by the media and by individuals that don't really understand the real nature of cloning.
The major argument against cloning is based on a philosophical view that focuses on how cloning could be damaging to society. It is this view that tends to create perceptions that cloning will lead to a major breakdown in society. The problem with this argument is that it rests purely on speculation and anything can be argued to be negative based purely on speculation. For example, consider the case of creating children naturally, a case that is accepted as part of society. This society includes that it is accepted that people can create children out of wedlock. To argue against natural childbirth, one could create a scenario where men travel from town to town, taking advantage of poor women and creating children as they do so.
These men could be seen as creating an army of similar offspring, just as the cloning argument describes men as creating an army of identical offspring. This scenario related to natural birth is capable of happening, yet this does not cause childbirth to be banned outside of marriage. Instead, society places controls to manage these potential problems. This has shown how a purely speculative approach to the argument only creates misconceptions and causes a bias towards the issue.
The fact remains that everything that is a part of society has potential problems associated with it. The fact that many forms of medication are available over-the-counter allows individuals the opportunity to attain medication easily. While this is beneficial to society, it also relates in potential problems where people take advantage of this over-the-counter medicine and use it for purposes other than what is intended. The sale of cars allows every individual the opportunity to drive. Yet it also makes it possible to run someone over or drive a car into a building. These examples show that any aspect of society has negative possibilities associated with it. Society recognizes this and places controls to manage these negative possibilities. The same applies to cloning. This means recognizing that cloning is not without its problems, while also realizing that these problems are not a reason to argue that it should be banned entirely. It also means that the negative possibilities should not be emphasized to the point where the positive characteristics cannot be considered without prejudice. Overall, this requires an objective and considered view on the subject, rather than a focus on worse case scenarios that are purely speculative.
A consideration of a common view on the cloning debate will show that this issue is being approached as one to be feared, and not necessarily looked at objectively. One author describes her reaction to the cloning debate, describing how a local man rang the local station and described a whole team full of Michael Jordans as making cloning worthwhile. The author responds to this saying,
It seemed to me then and seems to me now a nightmare. If there were basketball teams fielding Jordans against Jordans, we wouldn't be able to recognize the one, the only, Michael Jordan... Absent that irreducible singularity, their gifts and glorious soaring accomplishments would come to mean nothing as they would have become the norm, just commonplace" (Elshtain 27).
This is an example of the argument that is based on a fictional idea. The idea of a team full of Michael Jordan's clearly is a disturbing image and one that appears to reduce people to less than human and more like robots. This idea is supported by views in science fiction films and books based on clone armies. In this context, clones have the idea attached to them that they are not human. In one way then, this argument is effective in illustrating the argument against cloning. The problem is that this is not a realistic argument. Firstly, even if cloning was accepted, one must wonder whether whole basketball teams or armies would ever be cloned. In the current environment, artificial insemination is a reality, yet sports stars do not have their sperm taken and used to impregnate women to form a series of children with the possibility that one might have the same 'superstar' genes as the parent. The current technology would allow this to happen, yet it does not happen. This is because controls are in place to prevent this and also because human beings do not naturally do everything that is possible, but limit their actions based on what they consider right and wrong. Instead, artificial insemination is mostly limited to the use society accepts, as a way for couples with fertility problems to reproduce. It is a major leap in thinking to consider that cloning will suddenly result in this terrible world where people are free to clone whole teams of people. Instead, it is much more feasible to consider that cloning will largely be put to good use, such as by allowing infertile couples to have children. This line of thinking is more realistic with this approach meaning that cloning would be accepted as an alternative available within the limits of society, rather than being a possibility that will completely alter society.
The other major problem with the idea that cloning will result in teams of super human beings like Michael Jordan, is that, even with cloning, a team of identical human beings would not be produced. This is because a cloned individual is not actually identical, despite the fact that they are a clone. This is a common misconception that undermines the argument of those against cloning. As one text describes,
Genotype alone does not determine the physical attributes of an individual. The environment begins to influence the phenotype of an individual from the time of fertilization and continues to do so throughout gestation and after birth. To produce a duplicate of any person would require an exact replication of all aspects of the environments encountered by the individual being cloned at all stages of life" (Dawson 32).
The reality is then, that even cloned individuals are not identical. A cloned individual's genetics may be the same, but they will still differ based on everything in their environment, including how they live.
This leads to another point that the idea of a cloned team of Michael Jordans overlooks. The question must be asked, is Michael Jordan the basketball star that he is only because of his genes? To think that Michael Jordan's success or that of any other person's success in any area is only based on their genes overlooks a key aspect of success. Any person may have their success contributed to by genetics, but just as important is the person's own actions. Michael Jordan clearly has a genetic advantage because of his height. But his success is also just as much contributed to by his own efforts at practicing and developing his talent. This illustrates a major flaw in the predictions of what cloning will lead to.
Despite the flaws in the argument describing the impact of cloning on society, the idea persists that cloning will lead to armies made up of people that are less human and more like robots. This is a fallacy created by a lack of understanding of the cloning process and a focus based on fear. One author describes the imagination as creating images of "regiments of identical individuals marching by the thousand" and "phalanxes of identical little Hitlers goose-stepping to the same genetic drum" (Dawkins 55). These are images created by the idea of cloning, and as has been seen, ones that are clearly false. Yet, as Dawkins (55) says, these are visions "so horrifying as to overshadow any lingering curiosity we might have over the final solution…