Human Exceptionalism

Ian Wilmut is Growing Ever More Radical

Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly, used to only want to clone animals for use in genetic engineering. He would never clone humans, he wrote in his book about Dolly. Then, when his animal cloning enterprise went financially belly-up, he moved into human therapeutic cloning experiments, receiving a license to clone from the UK government. Then, he wrote that reproductive human cloning should be allowed if it is safe, at least in some circumstances. Now, he says the UK is too conservative in its cloning public policy, even though it has one of the most permissive cloning laws in the world.

Here are the key quotes reported from a recent speech, as I see them: “We seem to have lost our excitement and confidence in science.” No. Science isn’t an end, it is a means. Being concerned about the ethics of an area of scientific inquiry is not to lose our excitement about overall scientific potential. Nor is insisting upon proper ethical and moral limits, anti-science. Indeed, many are concerned about the prospect for human cloning precisely because we understand that science usually accomplishes what it sets out to do.

“While it is right to ask real biological questions about the safety and efficacy of such procedures, this is exactly what the licenses for embryonic research are for.” No, there is more than efficacy and safety at stake. There are crucial moral and ethical issues that must be resolved.

Then, he warns that lives may be lost because of cloning restrictions. Well, this is just irresponsible alarmism and harem, scarem. One could just as easily assert that every dime taken from adult stem cell research and put into human cloning could cost lives. It is an irresponsible advocacy tactic.

Wilmut clearly sees no moral problem with creating human cloned embryos for use and destruction in research. But many others do. Thank goodness, we don’t live in a scientocracy. When it comes to morality and ethics, we all have an equal right to have our say.