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Morality of Cloning
In her book "Discovering Right and Wrong," Louis Pojman consistently makes the same point throughout her chapters: beyond all the debate and lack of consensus, and beyond all the confusion of relative morality, there should exist a true objective standard which a rational being can discover. In all her writing she seems to challenge the readers to look for objective evidence of truth, a plea which often has much in common with a more conservative position on politics and morality. When it comes to the issue of cloning, however, it seems that the search for rational objective evidence is frequently put aside in favor of often illogical "gut reactions." It is high time that a truly reasonable approach to cloning was attempted. In order to best approach this from an objectivist standpoint, it seems reasonable to backtrack to one of the founding fathers of modern objectivism, Immanual Kant. According to Kant, there were basic objective "universal laws" which could be discovered through rational thought and what he referred to as categorical imperatives. He wrote: "act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature." By this he meant that if one could not wish that one's actions or choice were replicated by all others in similar circumstances, or moved from the individual instance into a universal law, then one could not proceed in a moral fashion. The objective truths of the world were assumed to be thus logical and rationally created so that if everyone were to abide by them perfectly the world itself would be well. If one gives credence to the voices of the religious right on the issue of cloning, one would assume that the categorical imperative was against cloning. However, on closer inspection one can find that in most foreseeable circumstances, the weight of the universal maxim may actually lie with those who support cloning. Through looking at the situation rationally and through analyzing specific arguments, one may see that despite the negative hype cloning may in fact be a moral decision which our society and our families have a right to make.
In regards to the Kantian analysis, it is curious to see how clearly it falls in favor of cloning. When one looks to banning cloning, one sees immediate issues with universally willing that all irreligious scientific advances (or even all those that might threaten to compromise the value of life) be forbidden. One might make such a blanket statement, but this would be somewhat inconsistent in that one would not wish away the many inventions and discoveries that throughout time have struck the world as sacrilegious or threaten to human kind. For example, in their time the theories of the solar system and the automation of the workplace have both been seen as compromising the value of human life and threatening the rightful place of God. While some extremist such as the Amish might wish a return to a time before such science, it is not the place of most philosophers to consistently think this way. So one would have to more specifically will into existence not a ban on "bad" science, but on cloning in particular. Yet by the same measure, one would have difficulty willing into existence a comprehensive and universal ban on the cloning of human genetic material. However, this would fail to take into account that cloning occurs naturally in utero, a case which results in identical twins. Some cultures have in fact held that twins were a sign of evil and have had strict bans upon them. The Ibo of Africa, before colonization, are one example of such a tradition: "twin births were abhorred, being viewed as abnormal. Hence, the babies were generally disposed of, and their mothers were, at times, banished." However, this is scarcely to be considered in modern times a rational moral choice, and the fact that it has existed previously in more superstitious cultures to some degree highlights the way in which its appearance in modern culture is superstitious.
Yet could cloning be looked at within the scope of a Kantian morality? The answer may be yes, depending on the reason for the clone to be made. One could in fact will that all those incapable or unwilling to give birth in other ways would reproduce themselves through cloning, and it would in no way be self defeating. One might also feasibly will that all people reproduce themselves through cloning, and while this would be slightly odd it would not be inherently inconsistent and might in fact create a very strong and stable social structure. After all, these children are being seen as an end to themselves. Even for more dubious purposes, such as to provide bone marrow for another ill child, cloning could be universally willed. The Maxim to create one life to preserve another could be universally applied, and no harm would be done to the second child who was granted life in the bargain. Indeed, one is hard pressed to find a significant problem with cloning in concrete moral terms. As one author writes:
what exactly is wrong with it? Which ethical principle does cloning violate? Stealing? Lying? Coveting? Murdering? What? Most of the arguments against cloning amount to little more than a reformulation of the old familiar refrain of Luddites everywhere... 'if God had meant for man to fly, he would have given us wings. And if God had meant for man to clone, he would have given us spores.' Ethical reasoning requires more than that."
So if rationally one cannot find a categorical fault in cloning, and one can find categorical faults in trying to ban cloning, then one is left with the difficult task of coming up with other arguments against the practice of cloning. In the end, it appears that the practice of cloning may not be so much condemned on a rational level as it is rejected on an emotional or even instinctual level. "Cloning is a radical challenge to the most fundamental laws of biology... much of the ethical opposition seems also to grow out of an unthinking dust -- a sort of 'yuk factor.' And that makes it hard for even trained scientists and ethicists to see the matter clearly." The idea of reproducing without sex strikes a strange cord instinctually, and the idea of some humans using cloning to produce exceptional children may seem even more threatening in a vaguely Darwinian fashion. Yet the horrors of a Brave New World scenario and massive global conformity to a superhuman status are far from realistic. "Such ideas are repulsive, not only because of the 'yuk factor' but also because of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis in the name of eugenics. But there's a vast difference... Banks stocked with the frozen sperm of geniuses already exist. They haven't created a master race because only a tiny number of women have wanted to impregnate themselves this way...." In the end, if one puts aside the instinctive sci-fi-inspired fear of cloning and the unknown, there are only three basic arguments against cloning, though each has their own set of sub-genres. These objections are that cloning is inherently narcissistic without reason, that cloning is somehow bad for society or for the clones themselves, and that cloning is inherently evil.
One of the most common arguments against cloning is even expressed by one of the creators of the legendary clone Dolly: "Why, he asked would we want to clone ourselves?"
He goes on to say that he is appalled by the very idea of human cloning because it seems so pointless to him. "Even if we truly desire an exact duplicate of someone... The plain truth is that we won't get it.... A cloned Einstein reared in twenty-first-century Los Angeles will not become a tousled professor of new physics." This argument suggests that cloning is unnecessary and will only appeal to foolish narcissists who wish to breed a perfect duplicate of themselves or an ideal child. However, the argument that cloning is unnecessary for reproduction and useless for the purpose of duplication is not a convincing argument for a variety of reasons. First, it fails to recognize the full spectrum of motivation for cloning and thus fails to see situations where it may be necessary. Likewise, it fails to recognize that psychological duplication is generally not the key of human cloning dreams, and that therefore many of the uses of cloning fall outside the realm of its argument. Finally, the argument (ironically) fails to appreciate the degree to which the natural genetic nature of humans may drive them towards cloning over other solutions.
It is entirely natural, in a Darwinian sense and in an emotional human sense, for men and women to desire to give birth to a child which is biologically their kin and to devote their parental nurturing powers to their own biological offspring. It is the essential animal nature of humans to…[continue]
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