Should Human Cloning Be Legalised Philosophy Essay

4838 words (19 pages) Essay in Philosophy

5/12/16 Philosophy Reference this

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Human Cloning technology is a scientific breakthrough that is found to be most controversial during the last decade. Being a method used to produce duplicate copies of humans, there is huge controversy on whether duplicating human DNA is ethical or not. Each and every part of our society is influenced by the introduction of human cloning. Religious beliefs do not allow such a technology, political parties are not sure if they should stop scientists from exploring the limits of knowledge, or leave them discover new technologies that could possibly put an end to our world. Scientists on the other hand, although eager to apply human cloning, are confronted with severe funding problems. People are divided into three groups; the first one consists of those who know what human cloning is about and are against it, the second one consists of those who are in favour of this technology and the last one of those who have no idea what human cloning is and are afraid of even thinking of it. In this essay I am investigating whether human cloning should be legalised or not, by analyzing different scopes of human principles such as dignity and autonomy and how they correlate with moral restrictions that scientists should have. Another aspect of my research is the way society deals with human cloning and with the introduction of the first human clone a decade ago. In my opinion, human cloning is a technology that cannot be avoided at the point where we stand right now and it may prove a wise decision to legalise it under strict laws and limited official use.

Contents………………………………………………………………………………………2

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………..3

Section1 : Human Cloning and Religion……………………………………………………..4

Section2 : Human Cloning, Politics and Society……………………………………………5

Section3 : Individuality, Personality and Identity………………………………………….7

Section4 : Are there Human Clones already among us ?……………………………………………….9

Section5 :Advantages of Human Cloning…………………………………………………12

Section6 :Disadvantages of Human Cloning………………………………………………14

Conclusion â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦…16

References/Bibliography…………………………………………………………………..19

INTRODUCTION

“The pressures for human cloning are powerful; but, although it seems likely that somebody, at some time, will attempt it, we need not assume that it will ever become a common or significant feature of human life.” [1] , said Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly in his book “The second creation: Dolly and the age of Biological Control” Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned in 5th July 1996 by Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell at Roslin Institute, in Scotland.

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“Human cloning is a form of cloning which is designed to result in a copy of a human being or a human body part.” [2] Therefore, a cloned human is an identical copy of the one whose cells have been used. There are two types of human cloning, the therapeutic and the reproductive one. Therapeutic cloning is the use of stem cells, in order to regenerate tissues in our organism, and “reproductive cloning represents a new reproduction technique by which life can be given to an identical twin of the original cell donor.” [3] Human cloning ethics are one of the most controversial issues right now. It is actually a social issue, as everyone in our society is positively or negatively affected by this new technology. As far as religion is concerned, there are representatives of religions claiming that scientists play God and others believing that human cloning is an advance in our society. There are people believing that a cloned child cannot have its own life and that it hasn’t got a personality or it will not be developed properly. Does this reaction suggest fear? Maybe people have not really understood human cloning and therefore react in this way? Should scientists take moral responsibility for their actions? Are there already clones among us? Every question makes the issue of human cloning more and more interesting and controversial.

When a cloned baby grows up will it have a personality? Will this person be an individual? Will it be treated like an individual? Will it have its own personality or the personality of the person its genetic material comes from? Will it have an identity?

In this essay, I will try to investigate whether human cloning should be legalized by taking into consideration the above questions.

I have chosen to concentrate my investigation for human cloning on the United States of America, as this country spends a good amount of money for research, and decisions made can influence the whole world. Therefore, bearing in mind the high standard of the laboratory equipment, and that in the USA there is a mixture of people with different religions, legislation, economical and political status, I believe that it is worthwhile investigating this country. Besides, “as President Barack Obama put it in September 2010 ‘our nations success depends on strengthening America’s role as the engine of discovery and innovation’.” [4] 

Human Cloning and Religion

Human cloning technology has the power to start life out of nowhere. This kind of technology is not accepted from the religious people, as it is thought to be an attempt to imitate God.

Scientists are thought to be unethical, and people who act against God’s will. Representatives from most religions claim that cloning is an act of removing human dignity. Only God should be involved in the creation of life, therefore every action of life creation by humans is against Him. Infertility treatments that exist at the time are also considered to be wrong according to religion.

No one is supposed to play God and create life because we are the creation and not the creators. Creating life is considered blasphemy for many religions if not all of them. Engineering humans is wrong for us to do because the only one who has the right to engineer us is God. ‘The breath of life is given to us by God – not by scientists splicing genes in a lab.’ [5] “The Bible tells us that ‘it is he who made us and we are his’ [6] , and I do not believe we have been given any permission to compete or override God’s act of creation.” [7] 

With respect to the book “Brave New World” by Aldus Huxley, scientists might be tempted to create clones with a lot of strength and low intelligence that will be used, according to governmental needs, either as slaves and workers or even as a whole army instead of using mercenaries.

Human Cloning, Politics and Society

Human Cloning has an immediate effect on politics and huge controversies arise on this issue, as great interests are at stake between various research and pharmaceutical companies, due to the huge expenses involved in this procedure. As the USA is a very big continent with different states having different legal systems each, a lot of communities with various religious beliefs or other beliefs (for example the Amish community) exist. Additionally, one must not forget the high percentage of illiteracy and conservatism reigning in some states. Thus, Americans can be categorized to three main groups; those who are opposed to human cloning technology because their own moral ethics and religious group wouldn’t permit it, those who are indifferent to such a technology and are not interested at all and the ones who are in favor of this technology because they think we should continue to develop it.

As we all know, it is in the nature of politicians to follow what most people want. Therefore, desperately seeking votes, they try to do whatever the majority prefers and also try to avoid what the majority dislikes. Since cloning is a technology originated by scientists and addressed to literate people more or less, there is a general opposition to human cloning since in the USA, “87 percent say it should be against the law to produce a child through cloning”. [8] Additionally, it is of importance to say that “nearly nine out of 10 Americans surveyed believe that human cloning should be illegal. Those opposed say their religious views influence their opinion on this issue”. [9] 

As Bill Clinton said when expressing his negative beliefs regarding human cloning: “Banning human cloning reflects our humanity. It is the right thing to do. Creating a child through this new method calls into question our most fundamental beliefs. It has the potential to threaten the sacred family bonds at the very core of our ideals and our society. At its worst, it could lead to misguided and malevolent attempts to select certain traits, even to create certain kind of children — to make our children objects rather than cherished individuals.” [10] 

Individuality, Personality and Identity

People are afraid of the cloning technology because they do not really understand it. Despite the huge marketing efforts put in by scientists, most people are against it. Although the advantages cloning offers are important and do exist, there are serious drawbacks such as the religious ones discussed above which show that scientists should be more ethically and morally responsible for their actions.

An individual can be simply defined as a person that acts and thinks. Cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am, said Descartes, positioning his idea about an individual. An individual is someone who thinks and therefore exists. According to empiricists the idea of individual is shown through the “tabula rasa”, blank state, notion. An individual in other words develops his knowledge by education and experience and is not born with the principles of life.

One can be an individual only if he relates with the world around him. Cloning relates to individuality because if the human race is not ready enough to accept human clones, when these clones arrive it will be a major problem. Will a cloned person have individuality? Will other people let the clone have individuality? Will he be tabula rasa or will scientists “inject” him with knowledge? Will he be one of us? Or a programmed computerized machine? I believe that a clone will be a copy of the person cloned but, as twins, will have some differences in his/her personality that are not affected by genes and heredity. The cloned person will mostly be a copied image of the original with its own characteristics depending on the environment where he/she lives, the people who come in contact with him/her and generally his/her upbringing.

“Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of high courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal condition of existence coupled with the greatest possible freedom for self-determination.” [11] 

In order to have a personality, we must be individuals. Is a clone’s personality going to be the same as the person from whom he was cloned or is he going to create his own personality? Will people let him create his own personality? Personality most times is created after socialization. Will a cloned person be able to socialize? Although the clone is going to create his own personality, he is going to be treated as an outcast, stigmatized and not be able develop.

“Identity is defined as the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity.” [12] 

As we can see from the definition, identity involves both personality and individuality. Therefore, someone must possess individuality, personality and identity in order to be accepted by our society. Can a clone gain “a persisting entity”? Can we accept clones that haven’t got a personality, an identity or individuality? Will clones be able to assume full responsibility for their actions? Maybe the person from whom the clone originated wants to have responsibility of his clone. Or even the government or scientists may want to have full control on the clone.

We must also consider the issue of human dignity and autonomy. Although dignity and autonomy mostly overlap, they are fundamental principles of what a human being is. Maybe copying a human’s DNA and genome will infringe human dignity.

Are there human clones already among us?

Even from the period of the Second World War the idea of cloning had already been established. Hitler wanted to create a race, the Aryan race where everyone would share the same characteristics and the same culture.

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Dr Josef Mengele, also known as the Angel of Death, experimented with identical twins and was extremely involved in genetic research in Auschwitz. He was mainly interested in heredity and how genes are important. We can assume that since he was so involved in studies of genetics importance, he may have had the desire to clone children but did not have the necessary knowledge at the time.

In 1993, the US government reported that the first human embryos had been cloned. “Cells taken from defective human embryos in an infertility clinic are grown in vitro and developed up to 32-cell stage, then destroyed.” [13] 

In 1997 Polly is cloned, by Ian Wilmut’s team (Dolly’s creators) which is the first sheep that has been genetically engineered with human genes. This clone is considered a lack of ethics and should not be repeated in any way since the dignity and autonomy of our race is infringed. In 2001 and according to the CNN, fertility scientists in Rome reported their plans to start applying cloning technology on human beings. “Dolly is here and we are next,”, [14] Panayiotis Zavos said when reporting his plans of helping infertile couples have children with the method of human cloning.

Additionally, in 2001 (9 March) “Severino Antinori and his partner, U.S. scientist Panayiotis Zavos, say they plan to carry out the first operation in an unidentified Mediterranean country, starting in October.” [15] It is my strong belief that since scientists are denied official research and experimenting, the only thing left for them to do is to conduct undercover research in secret laboratories maybe under the earth or even in the open sea.

At the time when all this starts taking place, the UK government decides to ban human cloning and the US House of Representatives calls for a total ban on human cloning. Therefore those scientists researching are considered to be illegal. The USA government spends $3 billion on human embryonic stem cell and genetic research; this amount of money was spent in 2004. Six years later, the same Government, under the presidency of Barack Obama, spends even more on the same project. How is it possible for a total ban to take place when the same government spends so much on research? In March 2005 the UN Declaration on Human Cloning “calls for countries to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life.” [16] 

Returning to the issue mentioned in this section, we are not in a position to know at the time how many human clones exist, as they cannot be distinguished either by their socialization abilities or by their color or appearance. However, it is more than certain that human clones live among us. Clonaid, a company advertising in the net as being “the world’s leading provider of reproductive human cloning services” [17] , claims to have tried human cloning many times successfully. “Eve, the first cloned baby, was born Dec. 26, 2002, thanks to our team of highly skilled scientists. Since then, we’ve been able to help a number of patients have their own children through our cloning technology.” [18] This company was founded by a member of a religious group called Rael believing that “human life was created by DNA brought to earth by an alien race” [19] and that Christ’s resurrection is not true because Christ did not truly rise, but people were seeing his clone. Clonaid claims to have a lot of customers on waiting list. “They are from everywhere.  Of the 20 of them I think there are six or seven who are infertile couples, 11 who are parents of a lost child.  And there are two single women, one lesbian couple and one homosexual male.” [20] 

What a scientist needs in order to perform human cloning is someone who will fund the project, a person who will give his consent in being cloned and a woman who will approve to carry the cloned embryo. Needless to say, that some of these roles can be easily played by the same person.

Now that human cloning has been introduced officially to society, researchers might consider cloning scientists and politicians that had changed the world once, to change it once more. But will this be effective? Most probably not, since people of the past will not be brought up in the same environment, as the one of the past. If Hitler was cloned, we can be more than sure that he would not develop the same traits.

I think that although Clonaid might not be telling the truth since there is not any proof that clones have already been produced, this is a good opportunity to think that people can reach their limits. At desperate times, desperate measures are called for and producing clones may be a measure needed. People not only reach their limits but exceed them forgetting any costs. Even ethical ones…

Advantages of human cloning

We cannot ignore the fact that genetically identical twins are produced naturally some times. Although not perfect copies of each other, they share the same genes. Therefore Mother Nature has its own way of cloning.

To begin with, everyone has the right to have children but unfortunately infertility problems keep rising nowadays due to various factors. According to scientists, this is where human cloning techniques come to assist. Most infertility treatments right now have a 30% failure but human cloning has more possibilities. Also human cloning proposes that instead of using donated sperm and eggs where needed, our own genetic material can be used to create a clone of ourselves. In addition, human cloning technology will be less time consuming than the existing IVF infertility treatment. At the time, most governments are not keen on giving the green light to scientists to conduct research for the reasons already explained.

Another argument in favour of human cloning is that if scientists manage to combine stem cells treatment with human cloning technology, serious conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure and others, may become curable.

Human cloning technology can reverse the ageing process, resulting in rejuvenation. Therefore, it can be used for cosmetic surgery, avoiding silicone implants, as well as for replacing face tissue, after terrible accidents, instead of plastic surgery, again avoiding silicone implants which are foreign substances entering our bodies. Parts of the body can also be manufactured using human cloning technology.

Heart attack victims can be decreased by using human cloning to clone healthy heart cells and inject them to the damaged ones.

Cloning technology might help researchers learn how to turn on and off the function of our cells. In this way, many severe types of cancers can be cured. Leukaemia, a type of cancer is already curable by using embryonic stem cells. Also Down’s syndrome risk for women, can be avoided by this technology Another really important argument is that parents will be able to clone their dying child or an already dead child in order to have another child with the same genetic characteristics to the one dead.

Quadriplegics will have an opportunity to walk again, but this will require extensive research in order for scientists to learn how to grow nerve cells on the spinal cord.

Disadvantages of human cloning

Human cloning is a technology created to help people, and as every innovative invention has its serious drawbacks.

To begin with, religion has a negative and crucial impact on cloning for all the reasons already mentioned. It is also said, although uncertain, that cloning implies loss of human dignity and personality. Another reason against human cloning is the one of the diversity of genes. Cloning technology produces identical copies of humans, therefore genes are also copied and not mixed, as should be the case in an embryo ( half maternal chromosomes and half paternal ). This property of reproduction where the child has half traits from the mother and half from the father enhances gene diversity. Through cloning gene diversity is impossible, for the time being, at least. This means that the clone will have only the traits of the person it comes from, with the prerequisite that it is brought up in the same environment.

One disadvantage that is not yet researched and observed is the possible risk of mutated genes (genes with altered DNA sequence) or cells of the human clones. Some mutations may not be spotted and cause abnormalities to the fetus.

There is also the possibility that people might see cloning as a solution of raising their beloved dead relatives and friends and we must not exclude the risk of new illnesses, jeopardizing people’s lives.

Another argument is that of risking the emotional state of the clone. The mother will bring her identical twin up and perhaps also give birth to it and will see herself in this twin. The clone on the other hand, will have serious problems growing up as a young girl, problems of who she is and what her identity is. This will cause unnecessary stress and emotional pressure, as well as change in behavior. Incest problems may also arise, as the father of the clone may fall in love with his teenage daughter, who is exactly the same with his wife when she was at the same age. Will this be accepted in a future society? Will this actually be something absolutely normal for future families? Will family bonds remain intact? Will clones be considered as intruders and outcasts in our society? “Reproductive cloning would have an adverse impact on the social definition of family” [21] 

Will clones have autonomy or will they be in the mercy of their so called ‘owner’? Will the clone be considered to be an individual? “Some would-be parents may use cloning and genetic engineering in ways that violate the autonomy of their future child and, more generally, in ways that constitute abuse.” [22] If one wants to clone him/herself again will the consent of the existing clone be needed? Security systems should also upgrade their technology, as fingerprints will be the same between clones, insurance companies must adapt their policies accordingly, as well as the whole legal system should change radically. Clones will share the same fingerprints and any biometric testing will not be able to distinguish who is who. This may be an opportunity for criminals to clone themselves many times and therefore trick the legal system. Will there be a restriction to how many times one can clone himself?

Last but not least, is the issue of technological abuse. Human cloning is a very powerful technology that can have devastating effects, if in the wrong hands. As bioethicist Arthur Caplan stated: “If you’re going to make babies in new and unusual ways, then you have to protect the kid’s interests, and they’re not protected if all you’re listening to is what the paying customer wants” [23] . Our world is full of promising leaders who are fond of using this technology to cause harm. As this has already happened in the past with many newly found technologies, such as Einstein’s nuclear energy, that are used in the wrong way, with the result to have caused nothing but harm. These “leaders” may abuse this technology to produce slaves according to the nations’ needs. [24] 

CONCLUSION

Having considered and analyzed almost every possible parameter, use and misuse of human cloning, I will try to answer the research question by “decoding” the main points of each section above.

To begin with, religion plays a most vital role, as it influences most people in the USA. It is a restraining factor to the further development of human cloning technology, as scientists are accused of taking initiatives that only God is allowed to. Even though I respect all religions, I truly believe that there should be more flexibility concerning such delicate issues. Religion, in my opinion, sets limits and borderlines to scientists, preventing them from making considerable progress. These limits should not exist to such a degree.

As far as politicians are concerned, I believe that their opinion does not really matter, as it is an opinion only to make their constituents happy. There might be politicians that although with a positive view over human cloning, they are obliged to show a negative face to the media concerning this issue and vice versa. As President Barack Obama said in 2009 “We will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society.” [25] 

It is my strong belief that a cloned human should be treated as a human being, because it is one. Individuality, personality and identity are traits that are common to every human being; therefore clones should have the same rights with us. The IVF method had the same arguments, and now has become common practice. I am not suggesting that human cloning becomes a commodity; I am just demonstrating that people need time to understand certain developments, and during this time they become hostile to them. Hostility period and controversial arguments will however end sometime.

“Although there is deep unease and revulsion at the idea of cloning humans, there are almost no sound arguments as to why this violates our basic moral principles… science & society” [26] 

I respect the fact that human cloning has some severe drawbacks, however one must always bear in mind that every technological advance has minor or major problems. People should place advantages and disadvantages in the balance and decide for themselves and according to their opinion whether they should be cloned or not.

It is more than clear that my opinion lies positively on the issue of human cloning. By taking all the above into consideration, I strongly believe that human cloning technology should be legalized.

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