Cloning’s Moral Revolution

Cloning, we are told, is now in the clutches of the ethicists and out of the hands of the scientists. Science has advanced to the point to where, now, the debate is not whether we can clone, but whether we should or should not clone. Leon Kass, author of the essay, The Wisdom of Repugnance, gives three arguments used to defend cloning.

These three arguments for cloning are: the Argument of Technology, the Liberal Argument, and the Meliorist Argument.

Cloning’s Technology Argument

Cloning will assist with reproduction, especially with those who have difficulty. An example of this could be a lesbian who doesn’t want a man to be involved in the creation of her child. The nuclei of a human, eggs, and a uterus is all that’s necessary. No egg and sperm combination.

Another technological argument is that cloning could help determine if a child has a genetic disorder. Within this argument, cloning is seen as neutral, neither good nor bad. There is no inherent meaning or goodness in the procedure. How people use the technology determines the goodness of it.

What this argument fails to recognize is that cloning ignores the ontological meaning of bringing forth life. Cloning is a violation of the most fundamental principles of our natural natures. What does it mean to be human, to be created uniquely and different than everyone else on earth? The technological argument fails to address this quandary simply by chalking it up to it being on morally neutral ground.

Cloning’s Liberal Argument

The liberal argument revolves around freedom for the individual and for his rights. Cloning is just another way to express freedom. These proponents claim that as long as individuals are consenting and no one is harmed, let there be no restrictions.

A problem with this argument is that a cloned person would never be able to give the cloner consent to be cloned. As to the one being harmed, how many human embryos would be slaughtered in the process of perfecting the cloning technique? How many cloned humans will undergo deformities in the trial process and simply be disposed of? Are these humans or are they scientific projects with no value and dignity?

Cloning’s Meliorist Argument

A meliorist is a man who believes the world can be made better by human effort. He believes that we can eradicate disease and produce superior humans, a superior race of individuals. With this argument, the end justifies the means. Think about it, who wouldn’t want to be the smartest, strongest, or most beautiful?

In response to these arguments, Kass states, “The technical, liberal and meliorist approaches all ignore the deeper anthropological, social and, indeed, ontological meanings of bringing forth new life.” Humans, like other mammals, have a natural method of procreating. With humans, sexual intercourse between a man and woman can produce a child who is unique, who has kin, a lineage, and a commonality with every other human being in the world.

However, this process is altered when asexual means of reproduction occur, like cloning. Cloning is a radical departure from the natural, human way of reproduction. It becomes purely manmade and man-manipulated.

A defense to not clone revolves around the moral argument that humans deserve dignity and value simply because they are humans. Humans made in the image of God. Cloning would necessarily confuse the identity and individuality of people, procreation turns into manufacturing, and finally, the possibility of the cloners becoming despots is a real concern.

“Whether we know it or not, the severing of procreation from sex, love and intimacy is inherently dehumanizing, no matter how good the product.” -Leon Kass

For Further Discussion:

Albert Mohler on The Brave New World of Cloning


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