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Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement. John Robertson, “Liberty, Identity, and Human Cloning” Robertson's main 3-part argumentative strategy

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Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement


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    1. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • John Robertson, “Liberty, Identity, and Human Cloning” • Robertson's main 3-part argumentative strategy Part 1: Argue that there is strong reason to consider forms of “assisted reproduction” and “genetic selection” as part of one’s “procreative liberty” Part 2: Explore various species of cloning to determine whether any differences between cloning and either assisted reproduction or genetic selection can be the basis for denying that reproductive liberty applies to cloning Part 3: Explore the limits of the right to clone: Under what conditions is it permissible?

    2. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • John Robertson, “Liberty, Identity, and Human Cloning” • Part 1 1. Infertile couples seeking either assisted reproduction or genetic selection have the same interests (to raise children) and the same capacities to raise them as do fertile couples. 2. Fertile couples have the freedom to decide whether or not to have children (procreative liberty). 3. There are no other significant differences between fertile and infertile couples. Thus, (4) Reproductive liberty applies to infertile couples seeking assisted reproduction or genetic selection.

    3. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • John Robertson, “Liberty, Identity, and Human Cloning” • Part 2: Robertson considered four cases: a. cloning a couple’s embryos b. cloning one’s children c. cloning 3rd parties d. cloning oneself • In all these cases, he argues, the source of DNA material is no more problematic than that of IVF and the reasons for cloning may be the same as those of normal reproduction. • Part 3: Parents must intend to raise the cloned child

    4. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Leon Kass, “Preventing Brave New World” • The “unethical experimentation” argument 1. Regarding the history of cloning nonhuman animals, there is a high incidence of major disabilities, deformities, and deaths. 2. To engage in an experimental process that puts individuals at risk of serious disabilities, etc., is morally wrong (unless there is some compelling reason to do so.) 3. The sorts of reasons people do or would have for cloning do not constitute sufficiently good reason to override the reasons against cloning that concern possible disabilities, etc. Thus: 4. Reproductive cloning is morally wrong.

    5. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Leon Kass, “Preventing Brave New World” • The “identity” argument 1. Cloned individuals would inevitably (or very likely) experience certain psychic and social identity “problems” peculiar to being a clone (e.g., being “scrutinized” in relation to older version; being a curiosity). And such “problems” will likely be a source of psychological suffering or stress for the cloned individual. 2. The fact that some practice would likely cause such suffering is a good moral reason for being morally opposed to it. Thus: 3. There is good moral reason for being opposed to human cloning.

    6. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Leon Kass, “Preventing Brave New World” • The “manufacturing” argument 1. Reproductive cloning involves genetic selection and reproductive technology in bringing about children. 2. The result of technology is an artifact, or at least something that will likely be treated as one. Add to this the “commodification” of cloning and… 3. As a result, the cloned individual will “not stand on the same plane” as the parents and scientists who were responsible for cloning that individual. 4. Having such a status (not being on the same plane) is dehumanizing. 5. Actions that constitute or are involved in bringing about a dehumanizing existence are morally wrong. Thus: 6. Reproductive cloning is morally wrong.

    7. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Leon Kass, “Preventing Brave New World” • The “despotism” argument 1. Reproductive cloning “seeks to make one’s children after one’s own image… and their future according to one’s own will.” 2. To impose one’s will on someone else for such purposes is despotic. 3. Despotism is a clear case of treating someone as a mere means. 4. It is wrong to treat someone as a mere means. Thus: 5. Reproductive cloning is morally wrong.

    8. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Gregory E. Pence, “Will Cloning Harm People?” • A rebuttal of consequentialist arguments against reproductive cloning • “Originating humans by SCNT will never be common” because of how expensive it must be. • Embryos will not be harmed because they “are not sentient and...thus [are] not the kind of subjects that can be harmed.” • Regarding harm to SCNT children: • 1. Parents need not have bad motives • 2. Genes do not fully determine a child's future • 3. Social prejudices change • 4. Confusion with social, genetic, and kinship ties would not be any worse than that found with twins

    9. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Gregory E. Pence, “Will Cloning Harm People?” • “Originating a child by SCNT is not a breakthrough in kind but a matter of degree along a continuum involving twins and a special kind of reproductive choice” • Pence presents six cases along a continuum to illustrate this point: • Case 1: Natural twins • Case 2: Deliberate twinning • Case 3: Rebecca • Case 4: Susan • Case 5: Suzette • Case 6: The SCNT case

    10. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Michael J. Sandel, “The Case Against Perfection” • “The deepest moral objection to enhancement lies less in the perfection it seeks than in the human disposition it expresses and promotes.” • From a religious perspective: “To believe that our talents and powers are wholly our own doing is to misunderstand our place in creation, to confuse our role with God's.” • From a secular perspective: “If bioengineering made the myth of the 'self-made man' come true, it would be difficult to view our talents as gifts for which we are indebted, rather than as achievements for which we are responsible.”

    11. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Michael J. Sandel, “The Case Against Perfection” • This can be thought of as a virtue ethics approach. • The proper attitude towards talents regards them as gifts, not mere consequences of effort. • The “ethics of effort” is an expression of a kind of arrogance.

    12. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Arthur L. Caplan, “Good, Better, or Best?” • Anti-meliorists’ objections to biotechnological enhancement: • It's selfish, vain, and unrewarding. • It's unfair/unequal. • It will lead to deformation of character. • It leads to inauthenticity. • It will destroy the role of the parent. • It will destroy human nature. • First two objections dismissed quickly

    13. Chapter 10: Cloning and Genetic Enhancement • Arthur L. Caplan, “Good, Better, or Best?” • Anti-meliorists’ objections to biotechnological enhancement • It will lead to deformation of character. • Response: Vice is a trait of many if not all human beings • It leads to inauthenticity. • Response: Nothing wrong with improving one's mind • It will destroy the role of the parent. • Response: There will always be neurotic parents. • It will destroy human nature. • Response: Either no such thing as “human nature” or there is, but there's nothing wrong with altering it.