Chapter 13  : Reproduction: Assistance and Control Issues 

Section 4. Readings

Leon R. Kass: The Wisdom of Repugnance

1. Cloning distorts the cloned person's sense of individuality and social identity.

2. It transforms procreation into manufacture and children into commodities.

3.It encourages parents to regard children as property.

Outline by  Don Berkich,  University of Texas, Corpus Christi (by permission)

Synopsis:

Kass' conclusion, that we should ban the cloning of humans, is perhaps a reflection more of his own personal emotional reaction to the prospect of human cloning than the result of sound argument. Indeed, upon analysis one realizes that any argument against human cloning has an Achilles Heel: Any argument which concludes that it is morally wrong to give birth to a human clone is, a fortiori, an argument that it is wrong to give birth to identical twins.

Of course, we cannot conclude that human cloning is morally permissible just because there are no sound arguments to show that it is morally impermissible.

For the real question raised by human cloning has nothing to do with the moral permissibility of human cloning per se. Rather, the real question is whether new technologies like reproduction by somatic cell nuclear transfer are presumptively morally wrong or presumptively morally right.

That is, whenever there is a technological advance in medicine, who bears the burden of proof? Must those who believe the advance to be morally permissible prove it so, or must those who believe it to be morally impermissible prove it so?

This is a question which appears to be entirely lost on Kass, since he completely ignores the question of presumption and jumps into giving a series of ultimately flawed reasons against human cloning.

The question of presumption is, I submit, the interesting question to arise out of this debate. Nor is it clear how we should go about answering this question.

The Argument From Repugnance:


 

 


 


 

 

 

1

If the majority of people are emotionally repelled by human cloning, then human cloning is morally wrong.
 

 

2

The majority of people are emotionally repelled by human cloning.
 

Therefore

3

Human cloning is morally wrong

1&2

The Personal Identity Argument:


 

 


 


 

 

 

1

If a human clone would have troubled personal identity, then human cloning is morally wrong.
 

 

2

A human clone would have troubled personal identity.
 

Therefore

3

Human cloning is morally wrong.

1&2

The Property Argument:


 

 


 


 

 

 

1

If human cloning is morally permissible, then parents should view their children as property.
 

 

2

Parents should not view their children as property.
 

Therefore

3

Human cloning is not morally permissible.

1&2


 

The Eugenics Argument:


 

 


 


 

 

 

1

If human cloning leads to eugenics, then human cloning is morally wrong.
 

 

2

Human cloning leads to eugenics.
 

Therefore

3

Human cloning is morally wrong.

1&2


 

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Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

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