Ethics

This essay has a total of 883 words and 4 pages.

ethics

As soon as Scottish scientists announced that they had successfully cloned a sheep from
cells of another sheep, people began to be alarmed at the prospect of cloning human
beings. Editorial after editorial warned that we'd be "playing God", that we'd be creating
Frankenstein-like soul-less creatures, and that we'd be encouraging people's tendency
towards egoism to reach its ultimate expression by enabling human beings to clone
themselves. President Clinton banned all federal funding for research leading to the
cloning of human beings and called for a voluntary moratorium on private research. Pope
John Paul II denounced "dangerous experiments" that harm human dignity.

I, too, have some concerns about cloning human beings; but I think that most of the fears
people have are misplaced. As a philosopher who has worked on issues concerning personal
identity and, more recently, medical ethics, I have a different perspective on the issue
of human cloning from most commentators. Perhaps I can make a useful contribution to the
discussion of this topic.

I would, first, like to examine five concerns the general population seems to have about
cloning human beings and argue that they show either a misunderstanding about the process
and/or result of cloning, or else an ignorance of what it is that we already do. I shall
argue that there is nothing in principle more questionable about the cloning of human
beings than practices we currently engage in. However, I do have two serious concerns
about how the new technology is likely to be used; and, since I am not convinced that that
there are any really good reasons at the present time for cloning human beings, I too
would vote against permitting it.

I
1. It has been claimed that if we cloned human beings that we'd be "playing God." What
does this mean? Presumably it does not mean that we would be, through our actions,
creating a (human) life because that has been going on since Adam and Eve. Is it, rather,
the idea that scientists would be involved in the process of creating life, rather than
life resulting through the "natural" means of sexual intercourse? But this is nothing new.
Artificial insemination, the use of fertility drugs, and in vitro fertilization (IVF)
techniques have been used to create children who would not have existed without the help
or interference (depending upon whether you approve of the practices or not) of modern
science. So anyone who argues that the cloning of human beings is wrong because scientists
are involved in the process of creating a human life should not be objecting to the
cloning of human beings in particular. They should also be opposed to other medical
techniques which have been used to help childless couples and single women have children
who would not have been able to otherwise.

Furthermore, those who object to cloning simply on the grounds that it's "unnatural"
(rather than the more specific "unnatural creation of human life") should also be
objecting to the use of antibiotics, surgery, vaccinations, etc., which prolong life
unnaturally. They should similarly object to hair-coloring, synthetic clothing,
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