Genetic engineering is one of the most contentious and confusion ethical issues that is faced by modern society. An investigation into hypothetical cases where cloning is used can help to expose some of the ethical considerations implicit in genetic engineering technology. This paper will review the case of a child born as a clone of the father, using the perspective of Lee M. Silver, author of Remaking Eden. Similarly, the case of a child cloned to provide bone marrow for a sibling will be discussed through the perspective of Dr. Leon R. Kass, author of Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity. These two cases reveal a great deal about the differing perspectives of the authors, and the polarization of the debate that surrounds the future of genetic engineering.
The first case to be analyzed is that of the creation of a child (named Repete) who is the clone of the father. Replete has been genetically modified to be more intelligent and athletic than his father. For critics of such a process, there are a number of potential problems that such a scenario creates for the parent-child relationship, as well as for the self-identification of the child in this scenario.
In the case of Repete, on interesting issue may be the potential difficulty for the clone in developing a separate identity from the father. Critics could argue that it may be difficult for the son (Repete) to create an identity that is different from his father, who is virtually genetically identical. Further, the father and mother may psychologically expect the child to be virtually identical to the father, thus pressuring the child not to create a separate identity, and to keep many of the father's characteristics.
Lee M. Silver, author of Remaking Eden, would be quick to note that many of the ideas about cloning that underlie concerns about Repete's difficulty in developing a separate identity are completely inaccurate. Often, clones are depicted in movies, television, newspapers and other media as carbon copies of the original, with the same thoughts, personality, abilities, ideas, and inclinations. However, Silver is quick to point out that this is, in many ways, an inaccurate picture of cloning.
Importantly, Silver argues that a clone is essentially no different than any other individual, with individual ideas and opinions, based on experience. A clone may share the same genetic material as the original, but it is a completely unique human being, notes Silver. Raised in a kind, loving family, a clone will develop to have their own identity and thoughts, separate from the parent.
In the scenario of Repete, who is the clone of his father, the parent-child relationship may be strained by the fact that father and child are genetically identical. Potentially, the child may feel that the parent is no 'better' or more authoritative than the child, since they share the same genetic material. In fact, Repete may feel superior to the father, as the clone is genetically enhanced to be more intelligent and athletic.
Silver's response to such arguments would again lie in the ability of the child to create a separate identity, as well as in the family's ability to care and nurture for Repete. Silver argues that humankind is defined much more by rational thought, caring, and human interaction, than the simple fact of genetics. Writes Silver, "what makes man special resides between his ears. We are fools if we don't know that."
As such, Silver would argue that the focus on the genetic similarities between Repete and his father are much less important than their familial relationship. He largely views the fear and opposition to genetic technologies as a consideration that should be largely secondary to considerations of child welfare and a happy familial environment. Notes Silver, "Why is it that so many politicians seem to care so much about cloning but so little about the welfare of children in general?"
Perhaps the potential issues of self-identification and difficulties in the parent-child relationship can be resolved through Silver's simple guideline for the use of new genetic technologies. Silver notes that there are "many paths that can be followed to reach the goal of having a child." Further, it is not the agent of reproduction that should be judged, Silver writes. Instead, he argues that the usefulness of each path should be judged "not by their intrinsic nature, but by the love that a parent gives to the child after she or he is born." He notes that a clone is essentially no different as a human being than other individuals who are raised in a warm, loving environment.
Despite the potential objections in cases like that of Repete, Silver argues that it is the desires of parents that will drive the adoption of genetic enhancement technologies. He argues that famed author Aldous Huxley had it wrong in his book, "Brave New World," which depicts a future where the government oversees human genetic manipulation in state-run factories. Instead, writes Silver, "What Huxley failed to understand, or refused to accept, was the driving force behind babymaking. It is individuals and couples who want to reproduce themselves in their own images, who want their children to be happy and successful, who will seize control of these new technologies."
It is this parental demand for genetic enhancement techniques that will drive the future of genetic manipulation, argues Silver. Given that parents are now afforded the right "to control every other aspect of their children's lives," our society cannot deny them the right to shape their parents genetics. As such, most current ethical debates surrounding genetic manipulation in development will become moot, and the government will simply be powerless under pressure from parents.
The case of Mr. And Mrs. Duplicates, who clone a child to act as a bone marrow donor for another child, provides a slightly different look at the issue of cloning. Mr. And Mrs. Duplicates' daughter, Theresa was diagnosed with myelogenous leukemia. Treatment required a highly compatible bone marrow transplant, and the most effective way to get a match would be to clone Theresa. The clone, Theresa II, would be used for the bone marrow transplant. Dr. Leon R. Kass, the author of Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity would oppose the actions of the Duplicates in cloning their daughter.
Kass argues that human dignity is the most fundamental part of human nature and human value. He notes dignity is "our awareness of need, limitation, and mortality to craft a way of being that has engagement, depth, beauty, virtue, and meaning." Important to his argument is that rationalism is not a valid way to determine the validity of genetic questions such as that of Theresa II. Instead, he argues that such decisions should be made from a spiritual understanding of human nature itself. In his book, Kass argues for "an ethical account of human flourishing based on a biological account of human life as lived, not just physically, but psychically, socially and spiritually." He notes that genetic engineering should be considered in the light of "what genuinely moves people to act - their motivations and passions, that is, loves and hates, hopes and fears, prides and prejudices, matters that are sometimes dismissed as non-ethical or irrational because they are not simply reducible to logos."
Kass would see the cloning of Theresa II as an act that degrades human dignity. Such an act would deny what it is to be truly human by reducing life to a simple manipulation of genes. To Kass, the creation of Theresa II would be a manipulation of human biology that defies the sacredness and mystery of human life. Kass notes, "life and soul are irreducibly mysterious" (296), and thus the cloning of a human being violates this basic, fundamental sacredness of human nature.…