Ethics of Human Cloningby Leon R. Kass, James K. Wilson
Pub. Date: 01/28/1998
Publisher: Aei Press
Today biological science is rising on a wall of worry. No other science has advanced more dramatically during the past several decades or yielded so many palpable improvements in human welfare. Yet, none except nuclear physics has aroused greater apprehensions among the general public and leaders in such diverse fields as religion, the humanities, and government.
Today biological science is rising on a wall of worry. No other science has advanced more dramatically during the past several decades or yielded so many palpable improvements in human welfare. Yet, none except nuclear physics has aroused greater apprehensions among the general public and leaders in such diverse fields as religion, the humanities, and government. In this engaging book, Leon R. Kass, the noted teacher, scientist, humanist, and chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, and James Q. Wilson, the preeminent political scientist to whom four United States presidents have turned for advice on crime, drug abuse, education, and other crises in American life, explore the ethics of human cloning, reproductive technology, and the teleology of human sexuality. Although in their lively dialgoue both authors share a fundamental distrust of the notion of human cloning, they base their resistance on different views of the role of sexual reproduction and the role of the family. Professor Kass contends that in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproudction technologies that place the origin of human life in human hands have eroded the respect for the mystery of sexuality and human renewal. Professor Wilson, in contrast, asserts that whether a human life is created naturally or artificially is immaterial as long as the child is raised by loving parents in a two-parent family and is not harmed by the means of its conception. This accessible volume promises to inform the public policy debate over the permissible conduct of genetic research and the permissible uses of its discoveries.
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Given the title of this book, The Ethics of Human Cloning, I figured it would be full of arguments about why cloning is ethical and that we should make an effort to advance our technology in that field. Much to my surprise (and good fortune), the book is about no such thing, in fact it is the opposite. Kass and Wilson both oppose cloning but have different reasons for their opposition, which are presented well using the essays that each had written. Although I sided with Kass for the most part, Wilson did have a few strong points and the book is put together in such a way that is easy to compare the different viewpoints of the two authors. I would recommend this book to people who are just learning about cloning (and have a pretty good size vocabulary) and I would definitely recommend it to people who are still on the fence as to whether or not they support cloning.
it is great but not ethical.. pay attention to fing tricky there
Both Kass and Wilson offer cogent and erudite meditations on the subject of human cloning. Kass suggests that outright and absolute prohibition is the only morally acceptable choice. On the other hand, Wilson suggests that as a complement to existing techniques designed to assist reproduction, cloning would be acceptable if a married, heterosexual couple cloned a consenting, close relative. I was surprised and disappointed to find that both rely almost solely on emotional appeals rather than any sort of logical, ethical construct. Kass seeks to promote the wonders of sex and begetting and their assumed importance in a healthy family unit. His logical arguments could be summarized as follows: One cannot presume that a cloned person would give consent to be born a clone. Does this mean we require consent from our prospective children to be born with any of the many conceivable traits they inherit from us? Or do we require their consent to even be born at all? Someone born as a clone would be confused about their identity. Would they be confused if they didn't know they were a clone? Probably not. Probably they would grow up with an individual and distinct onsciousness just like anyone else. Clearly the risk here is the risk of what Kass calls 'despotism'--trying to have a clone in order to mould it after someone else's image. Supposing that the cloned individual is raised by parents who have hopes and dreams for, even live vicariously thorugh the exploits of their child, is this really different than the feelings most (if not all) parents have for their children at one time or another. Part of maturation is rebellion and the exertion of independence. Cloning won't remove the instinct to form one's own identity. Kass's final arguement is that it is unethical to bring a cloned child into this world because it would be unclear to the clone who its kin are. Wilson does an effective job refuting this assertion, so I won't bother to rehash his argument. Wilson's primary argument for allowing cloning is that if the technology exists people will use it. I agree, and would go further to say that a society that spurns technology puts itself at a competative disadvantage. No one can predict what the ultimate utility of a technology is during its nascency. Wilson feels that cloning is thus permissible and ethically no different than IVF or any of the technologies used to aid conception. However, he feels it should be limited to married, heterosexual couples that can provide a loving familiy for the child. Both Kass and Wilson seem to be rooted in the morality of the 1950's. They both object vehmently to children being raised in any environment other than that of a married, heterosexual couple. Growing up, many of my friends were chilren of divorce, or raised by a single (even homosexual) parent, poor, subject to any number of prejudices and injustices and amazingly, they all seemed to turn out just fine.