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Cloning has retained the position of one of the most fascinating subjects, drawing the interest of researchers, sci-fi authors, and philosophers alike. Such a notion is becoming conceivable enough to become the subject of heated philosophical arguments. Its ethical component may be scrutinized through the lens of two significant trends in rational thought such as utilitarianism and human rights to understand the presented issue thoroughly.
The Subject of Cloning
Before any discussion may be achieved, it is necessary to identify the definition of the issues brought up explicitly. Tooley (2016) defines two types of cloning, each having different aims such as the creation of either a separate, conscious entity or an unthinking organ bank. Each of the presented versions contains its intrinsic ethical issues, which stem from the purpose and execution of the concept.
When creating an unconscious organ donor, the operation’s significance is obvious: to ease human suffering should loss of a body part occur. “Reproductive cloning” on the other hand seemingly does not hold any immediate benefit, which however does not negate reasons for its existence (Campbell, 2017, p. 181). Focusing on the former example, which results in the establishment of an independent from the original copy, will be the current focus.
Is Cloning Even an Issue of Ethics?
Individuality is the root of extensive philosophical discussion, and the topic of cloning puts modern-day actuality behind these debates. The personality concept is at the forefront of the cloning argument, omitting the procedure’s scientific drawbacks, as “the uniqueness of individuals would be in some way impaired by cloning” (Tooley, 2016, p. 161). Thus, examining bioethics permits evaluating the concept of cloning on a metaphysical scale more accurately.
Bioethics as a Separate Branch of Philosophy
The scope of bioethics is constrained within the subject of scientific advancement and its effect. The origins of the issue, stemming from the Second World War and a direct historical encroachment on human autonomy, make it especially acute in an ethical sense (Campbell, 2017). Bioethics, thus, has the right to be treated as an independent philosophical school of thought, with its topic and methodology.
Cloning Through Distinct Philosophical Perspectives
Having identified the background and the definition of the presented concept, examining the issue through different lenses becomes an achievable possibility. Cloning may be shown at the same time as beneficiary and detrimental (Tooley, 2016). Of the two most appropriate approaches, it is possible to identify two types of utilitarianism and human rights as permitting to cover the ethical side of the topic most fully.
Both Mill’s and Bentham’s conceptions agree on the fact that a thing becomes good when it is favorable to people. Judging by the concept of plurality benefit, cloning becomes an apparent positive occurrence, with the few making life better for the majority (Campbell, 2017). Diverging into the differences between the two types of utilitarianism permits noting the minor differences in what benefit is and how it may be achieved.
Philosophy of human rights, on the other hand, argues in favor of the privileges of the individual. Within it, cloning becomes an encroachment on individuality and free choice, intrusions on which Tooley (2016) attempts to dispel. Thus, considering the effect of genetics on destiny permits bringing the cloning debate to an entirely new level of philosophical discussion, even if from an undermining point of view.
Evaluating the issue of cloning from an individual and societal point of view opens it up from different perspectives. Effectively, as an ethical conception, at the current level of technological advancement, it may never be absolved or condemned. Therefore, just as the issue of human experimentation remains equally questionable from the perspective of ethics, so does the evaluation of cloning remain the domain of sci-fi authors primarily.
Campbell, A. V. (2017). Bioethics: The basics. (2nd ed.).New York, NY: Routledge.
Tooley, M. (2016). The moral status of the cloning of humans. In H. Kuhse, U. Schüklenk, & P. Singer (Eds.), Bioethics: An anthology. (3rd ed.) (pp. 156-172). Malden, MA: John Wiley and Sons Inc.