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Cloning Essay, Research Paper
The cloning of an adult sheep and the possibility that human cloning could soon follow has raised some serious ethical questions. Some people object on a purely ethical level while others favor cloning solely for the scientific advances it will produce. In the debate over cloning, there are those who say that the scientific benefits and advances gained from cloning are beneficial to society. On the other hand there are those who feel that cloning is morally wrong and would produce both scientific and social problems.
Since ethics is not an exact science, whereas cloning is, ethics has the tendency to generate more controversies than answers (Huges 12). As Huges, the author of “Human Cloning: Should It Be,” pointed out, anything that does not make someone feel good may be unethical for them, but that doesn’t make it illegal. The ethical issue of cloning should not arise at all at this stage, because society is not there yet to venture in such a task without knowing all of the ramifications (Huges 13). The issue, though, should not be left unattended either. It will be important for cloning to be researched under a well-monitored environment (Huges 12). Unethical concerns at one time could later on become ethical only if society could justify the need to have use for them (Mario 13).
What moral considerations deserve our attention and which are the most important in responding to a particular issue? These are questions that arise with every new controversy. Whether one’s ethical beliefs come from theological commitments, philosophical arguments, or from true-life experiences, all voices should be welcome to the conversation (Nash 80). All thoughtful views are entitled to a respectful hearing.
While tolerance is a widely accepted virtue in America, it is important to remind ourselves that it is built on the idea of mutual respect and the capacity to accept whenever possible, the moral worth of others with whom one may disagree (”Cloning Supporters” 3). Tolerance means both agreeing to disagree and accepting the challenge of sustaining a community where moral authority will, to some extent, always be contested.
Many people have different views of what is and what is not natural (Will A-8). Out of one thousand people polled, forty-eight percent of them believe that cloning is unnatural (Misterpoll 1). Due to the fact that clones originate from a single fertilized egg should make that cloned person natural (”Cloning Supporters” 3).
Since most people have visions of Dr. Frankenstein creating life from inanimate matter they are not getting all the facts straight (”Cloning Supporters” 3). Cloning creates life from life. The true definition of cloning is the production of one or more individual living things that is genetically identical to the living thing that was cloned (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 7).
Another issue that has come up about whether it is ethical to clone is the question of how a cloned person would act. Since a cloned person would be an exact replica of the original person he or she would be very similar physically and should be alike mentally (Wilmut 75). On the other hand his or her personality comes from genes, social influences, and how they were brought up (Wilmut 74). Because of this the cloned child’s personality would be completely different from the original person, unless he or she was raised in the exact same environment.
“Genes are not destiny, but that will not stop people from thinking that human cloning needs to be stopped before it starts” (Mario 3). If this were the case, as Smith sees it “a cloned Hitler might turn out to be a very nice guy (Mario 4).” Since it can not be proven that genes are not destiny, people are convinced that cloning will produce an appalling creature of destruction.
Some of the most commonly cited ethical and moral arguments against human cloning seem to originate from religious perspectives (”Cloning Supporters” 5). Politicians and scientists can even make these religious arguments with religious sympathies. Many of these religious philosophies teach, for example, that human life is unique and special and should be created, determined and controlled only by their deities perspectives (”Cloning Supporters” 6).
Numerous religions believe in the existence of, and in the individuality of, a human soul. Some people have questioned about whether or not a cloned embryo would have a soul. A soul is colorless, weightless, and has never been detected by any and may not even exist (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 6). But it is a concern to believers. Christians, for example, will be concerned about whether it will be possible to clone the human soul, along with the human (Mario 6). If it is possible to clone the soul, what will this mean? In contrast, if a person is cloned, but not their soul, what will this mean? Can a clone without a soul be destroyed and not offend moral or religious beliefs? Cloning will be defined by many as humans assuming the powers, the providence, and the jurisdiction their deities or other spiritual powers of their supernatural universe (”Cloning Supporters” 5).
The other advantage to cloning is perfectly matched organs, and the abundance of donor organs (Barr). Although most people don’t like the idea of “organ farms,” they have to realize the fact that society will not have a bunch of surrogate bodies walking around that scientists would kill when dying people needed a certain body part (Barr). These same people envision people cloning themselves so they could take whatever organ they needed (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 7).
The biggest worry of cloning is that it took two hundred and seventy seven attempts to create Dolly (Barr). Some of those failures resulted in defective lambs that died quickly after birth. Scientist Ian Wilmut said that it would be quite inhumane to contemplate using these techniques at this stage (Wilmut 74). Though as stated before, the issue, should not be left unattended either. It will be important to allow research in this field under a well-monitored environment (Huges 12).
Another controversial issue about cloning is the fact that Dolly was conceived using an ewe’s egg and only a cell from another ewe’s body (Barr D-8). It is noteworthy that no semen from a ram was involved (Mario 6). However, Dolly, the clone has the same status as her identical twin already has, because they both have originated from a single fertilized egg (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 6). This technique could also be used to create a “perfect human,” or one with above normal strength and sub-normal intelligence. If the techniques were perfected in humans, and came into general usage, there would be no genetic need for men. This would mean that all males would be allowed to die off, and that would be a major problem (”Ethical Aspects of human Cloning” 6).
A few people have expressed concern about the effects that cloning would have on relationships. For example, a child born from DNA cloning of his father would be, in effect, a delayed twin of that parent (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 4). Some fear that this may cause disturbances in the family, like a wife seeing an exact copy of her husband growing up and maturing. Or it may help since the father would understand some of the behaviors of his exact copy, his son (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 4).
One of the other cloning problems is that it may reduce genetic variability. Producing many clones runs the risk of creating a population that is entirely the same. This population would be susceptible to the same diseases, and one disease could devastate the entire population (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 7). One can easily picture humans being wiped out by a single virus, however, less drastic, but more probable events could occur from a lack of genetic diversity (Goodman A-10). For example, if a large percentage of a nation’s cattle are identical clones, a virus, such as a particular strain of mad cow disease, could effect the entire population. The result could cause catastrophic food shortages in that nation.
There is a risk of disease transfer between transgenic animals and the animal from which the transgenes were derived from (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 7). If a virus infects an animal producing drugs in its milk, the animal may transmit the virus to a patient using the drug.
Cloning may cause people to settle for the best existing animals, not allowing for improvement of the species. Because of this, cloning could potentially interfere with natural evolution.
Any research into human cloning would eventually need to be tested on human. The ability to clone humans may lead to the genetic tailoring of offspring. The heart of the cloning debate is concerned with the genetic manipulation of a human embryo before it begins development (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 7). It is conceivable that scientists could alter a baby’s genetic code to give the individual a certain color of eyes or genetic resistance to certain diseases (Mario 6). This is viewed as inappropriate tampering with “Mother Nature” by many ethicists.
Because clones are derived from an existing adult cell, it has older genes. Will the clone’s life expectancy be shorter because of this? Despite this concern, so far, all clones have appeared to be perfectly normal creatures (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 3). A “genetic screening test” could be used to eliminate zygotes of a particular gender, without requiring a later abortion (”Cloning Supporters” 3).
There are many things people believe are facts about cloning. Those facts are only opinions and suggestions brought up from their imagination. Most of these cloning misconceptions arise from their lack of knowledge (Mario 8). Especially since people in general do not understand the basic principles of cloning, and are more likely to make rash generalizations about whether cloning is ethical or not (”Cloning Supporters” 3). Many of these misconceptions are only valid in a society without regulation or laws of any kind (Berg 413). Society often forgets that along with new technological developments come specific rules, regulations, and guidelines to prevent problems (”Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning” 7).
Cloning presents as much a moral problem as a technical problem. For society, cloning is an affront to religious sensibilities; it seems like “playing God,” and interfering with the natural process. There are, of course, more logical objections, regarding susceptibility to disease, expense, and diversity. Others are worried about the abuses of cloning. Even though there are a few positive things about cloning, the overall disadvantages show some serious outcomes that could possibly cause havoc in the future. If cloning should become scientifically acceptable, maybe some of the following thoughts should be taken into consideration. Violation of the basic quality of uniqueness, loss of genetic diversity, not being able to know who is who, and to be considered morally wrong. Overall cloning comes into view as a powerful force that can be exploited to produce horrendous results.
Barr, Robert. “Cloning Raises Ethical Question in Scientific Community.”
Pocono Record 5 Nov. 1997: D-8.
Berg, Paul, ET. AL. “Regulating Human Cloning.” Science 16 Oct. 1998: 413.
“Cloning Supporters.” 1998
http://library.advanced.org/24355/data/reactions/pro.html (14 Oct.1999).
“Ethical Aspects of Human Cloning.” Feb.1999
http://www.religioustolerance.org/cloning.htm (14 Oct. 1999).
Goodman, Ellen. “Humans are not for Cloning.” Pocono Record 28 Feb. 1998:
Huges, J. “Human Cloning: Should it be.”
(14 Oct. 1999).
Hughes, Gareth S. “The Ethics of Cloning.”
“Human Cloning Proposals Rile Anti-abortion Groups.” Pocono Record 5 June
Mario, Christopher. “A Spark of Science a Storm of Controversy.” March 1997.
www.princetoninfo.com/clone.htm (26 Oct. 1999).
“Misterpoll. ” www.mrpoll.com/results.wga (21 Oct. 1999).
Will, George. “Cloning Solves Biological Knot, Ties Complex Philosophical One.”
Pocono Record 27 Feb. 1997: A-8.
Wilmut, Ian. “Dolly’s False Legacy.” Time 11 Jan. 1999: 74-77.
Woodward, Kenneth L. “Today the Sheep.” Newsweek 10 March 1997: 60.
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