idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
I have no moral qualms about cloning in general, nor organ farming (assuming you don't clone a sentient being specifically for it). My ethics coursework for philosophy always included it, and most arguments come down to the same ones used against birth control - don't play God.
I think it's a little more complex than that. And it's closer to the issue of abortion than birth control (although I suppose you could argue that those intersect). The underlying question is when someone/thing is considered a "human" and qualifies for rights. And much like abortion, the issue generally resolves around a matter of degrees. Some cells in a petri dish? Probably safe to consider not human. Fully formed fetus, with potential for survival on its own? Probably should be considered human. Sadly, we still have issues with this, so it's reasonable to expect that cloning will make things even murkier.
There IS one other major track of reasoning against both cloning and genetic engineering, though, which argues that it would be immoral based on the inherent classism it would endorse. Basic story: The rich could afford to engineer their children, when the poor couldn't, so over time the wealthy class would produce humans with capabilities vastly above the lower class. This would turn economic class into an actual biological class.
Yeah, I saw that movie too. I doubt we'll be in a position to engineer super children any time soon. I'm more concerned with the steps in between.
I suppose you could use that for cloning too, in some form. But considering there's no good reason to consider a clone anything but their own human person under the law, you'd just use family laws for inheritances and such. I mean, natural clones exist - they're called "twins" - so it's not like this actually creates any new issues with the law - procedural or forensic.
Honestly, that's part of the ethical quandary. If we adopt the idea that clones aren't humans, doesn't that same logic you just applied (that twins are natural clones) justify treating a twin as non or less than human? Let's assume we decide to avoid the problem by designing our clones with a flaw that will prevent higher brain functions from developing, thus allowing us to argue that this clone/fetus can never be a viable living human and thus doesn't deserve legal protection. What's to prevent some bright bulb from realizing that we can do the same thing to a "natural' fetus? So if I introduce some damage that'll ensure lack of higher brain function in a fetus at a stage early enough in the pregnancy that I could perform an abortion, what happens? Can the woman bring that non-sentient baby to term? Then what? That's a pretty huge loophole we've created. If we've already determined that a full set of non-sentient body parts that just happens to take on a human form isn't "human" and has no rights, does it matter how we arrive at that result?
The question of what makes a person a person is a relevant and important question to ask. And the question of God (or playing God), while a wonderful distraction, isn't the end all and be all of the issue.
Edited, May 20th 2013 4:27pm by gbaji