Type of Document Dissertation Author Pynes, Christopher Alexander URN etd-09222003-202639 Title Human Cloning And Moral Status Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Philosophy, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Michael Ruse Committee Chair Michael Meredith Committee Member Peter Dalton Committee Member Keywords
- Human Cloning
- Human Cloning
Date of Defense 2003-08-02 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe participants in the human cloning debate are as varied as the interests they support: Catholic priests, agnostic biologists, atheistic philosophers, and political leaders have all spoken out since the announcement of Dolly the cloned sheep's birth in February 1997. Currently, many of the participants are talking about different issues, working with different philosophical assumptions, relying on false or misunderstood data, and generally talking past one another. For example, how does the opponent of
human cloning who is concerned with issues like “playing God,” human dignity, or moral repugnance converse with a proponent who believes cloning is really about the reproductive rights of individuals? In this dissertation I take on the task of reconstructing and evaluating the arguments for and against human cloning, and finally argue that the disagreement is really about how to define “moral status.” I then provide
a definition of moral status that would enable for public discourse on this topic to move
in a direction that allows for responsible public policy making in the area of biomedical research.
Chapter I deals with clarifying the biological and scientific facts relevant to the human cloning debate. I begin with an introduction about the nature of biological advancement with DNA and trace the biological and philosophical breakthroughs that have given rise to the current technology, which allows for Nuclear Somatic Cell
Transplantation, the method developed by Ian Wilmut and his team to create Dolly. I then describe the different meanings that cloning can have in the biological sense. Concluding the chapter I argue for a definition of cloning that is topic neutral with respect to scientific methods and ethical theories.
Chapter II evaluates the common moral theories that are used in philosophical arguments against human cloning: Consequentialism (Utilitarianism), Deontology (Kantianism), and Virtue Theory (Aristotelianism). The popular opinion is that
deontologists would be against human cloning, consequentialists would be for human cloning, and virtue theory would be uninformative in the debate. What I show is that contrary to the popular opinion there are opponents and proponents in each of these moral camps, presenting arguments for and against human cloning. Their arguments are not limited to just the common "means as end" and "harm" debates, but include issues of right, non-identity, and moral status.
Chapter III concerns itself with a set of objections to human cloning that comes from the religious ethicists. The common belief is that they are the opponents while the secular ethicists are proponents of human cloning. I illustrate the varied argumentative
structure in the religious literature, and I provide the better religious objections to
human cloning. In doing so, I show that there is a common component between the religious objections and the secular objections to human cloning; and if understood properly, a compelling objection can be offered against human cloning that is sensitive to religious concerns but not grounded in religious assumptions.
Chapter IV deals with the important legal argument in the bioethics debates. The proponents of human cloning generally subsume the cloning questions under the rubric of reproductive rights. In the United States there is a legal tradition from Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) to Roe v. Wade (1973) that concerns reproductive rights issues that are relevant to the human cloning debate. In this chapter, I argue that one of the best defenses of human cloning is when human cloning is understood as a reproductive rights issue, but explaining and defending this right is problematic. Some opponents, however, do not accept the premise that human cloning is a reproductive right, and unless this premise is granted, this defense loses much of its force.
Chapter V attempts to answer the question: “What is moral status?” This is one constant assumption that is accepted without argumentation by most of the ethical argument about human cloning. Answers to many of the biomedical issues such as stem cell research, abortion, and human cloning all hinges on what concept of moral status one adopts. In this last chapter, I characterize some of the classic attempts to define moral status. I then show that even though we cannot give necessary and sufficient conditions for moral status simpliciter, we can give some necessary and some sufficient conditions for moral status that are relevant to biomedical issues. If we
accept these conditions in a manner that is topic neutral with respect to the moral theories, then I argue that human cloning is permissible in some cases. The same can be said for abortion, stem cell research, and euthanasia. Although this partial definition is not a commonly accepted idea of what moral status is, it can be used to inform public policy making with respect to human cloning laws. Finally, I conclude that a complete
ban on human cloning both research and reproductive is unwarranted at this time.
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