The Corner

Weird — But Interesting — Moral Theory of Cloning and Stem Cells

It seems clear that while the argument against embryonic stem-cell research is losing out to the forces of relentless “progress,” people are overwhelmingly opposed as a moral matter to “reproductive cloning,” or the duplication of living people as newborn babies. But what if, in fact, this gets the morality exactly backwards? It was James Q. Wilson who pointed out (in an essay I commissioned for the Weekly Standard that formed the basis of his book length debate on cloning with Leon Kass) that there are natural clones among us — identical twins — and we have no problem assuming that they are separate persons with separate characters and even separate souls. Therefore, a baby clone of, say, Jonah, would nonetheless be a different person with a different gestation experience, a different birth, a different set of perceptions both in the womb and out. The clone might even hate Star Trek.

The moral case against embryonic stem cell research might therefore be stronger, as it involves the unwilling, unwitting, and entirely mechanistic and cannibalistic use of potential life.

Not sure this is a helpful argument to anybody, but it’s on my mind anyway.


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