The Bioethics of Therapeutic Cloning:
A Brief Primer on the Issues

Cloning — By on January 12, 2006 at 1:47 am

[Note: Because I ‘



  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    First of all, I am suspect of some of the claims written above… more beloww…but that said…
    Allow me, as somebody who’s in the center -progressive end of the spectrum, and a non-Christian to set you straight about what would be some ethical difficulties with human reproductive cloning…and reproductive cloning in general:
    1. It’s costly compared to other therapies which might help more people more profoundly…
    2. It has the potential to alter the “DNA ecosystem” in ways that are un-predictable and thus potentially injurious to human and non-human life.
    But as for “therapeutic” cloning, I must say this looks an awful lot like “born people” = zygotes, and that’s a pretty moral repugnant stance.

  • http://www.sufficientscruples.com Kevin T. Keith

    A few clarifications:
    Since the obvious intent of “cloning-for-biomedical-research” is the development of clinical therapies, it would be more correct to refer to it as “cloning-for-biomedical-research-and-therapy”. The difference between this and “therapeutic cloning” is not great (especially when, eventually, the actual therapeutic use of such clones overtakes their use for research) – making the objection on this score more an issue of propaganda than of exactness in phrasing.
    The “scientific understanding of what makes a human being” has nothing to do with the morality of cloning, since scientific facts do not dictate moral conclusions. The claim that the fact that clones are “human beings” means something about whether they can be used for research or therapy is an absolutely classic example of what is often called “the naturalistic fallacy”: the belief that some particular natural fact logically requires some particular moral conclusion. Moral conclusions rest on moral values (in light of facts, but not dictated by facts). The question of “personhood” is precisely a moral question – a moral question that must be answered in order to determine the moral status of any putative person such as a scientifically human being. Ironically, Richard Doerflinger rejects the moral issue in favor of a bare factual issue while trying to answer a moral question – unusually bad thinking even for him. The “human being” argument would make a good trick question on an elementary ethics exam, but it’s embarrassing to see it arise in a serious discussion of a practical issue.
    Also ironically, Doerflinger claims that personhood is irrelevant in spite of the fact that the Catholic church has an explicit, official position on what defines moral personhood, and has, in fact held many – logically inconsistent – positions on that issue over the centuries. The fact that Catholics can’t work out a reasonable answer to that question hardly means that there is no answer, or that we can substitute a categorically inapposite scientific question for the moral question at hand. The fact that they have had, and still have, official positions on personhood is acknowledgement that species membership is not the central issue – something Doerflinger surely ought to know.
    Finally, as to: “You can

  • Mike O

    First of all, I am suspect of Mumon’s claiming a centerist postition, gave me a smile though.
    “Follow the money” is a popular line these days. How much money do big drug companies spend in research dollars on ESC and how much on ASC research?

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    Mike O:
    I’m with the majority of Americans on the most important issues…
    How much money do big drug companies spend in research dollars on ESC and how much on ASC research?
    Compared to what? Have you any idea how much they spend on advertising? R&D of drugs to prove safety and efficacy?
    There’s lots to complain about Big Pharma, but what I think you’re driving at is in the noise. Way down in the noise.

  • vaildog

    Hey mumon, or John Kowalski or whoever you are. You are in no way part of the mainstream. Maybe in Washington state, but not in the real world.

  • Mike O

    Mumon.
    My point was that the R&D done by profit driven big drug companies are a good indication of the promise they see and they see a lot more in ASR than ESR by their spending.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    Kevin,
    Since the obvious intent of “cloning-for-biomedical-research” is the development of clinical therapies, it would be more correct to refer to it as “cloning-for-biomedical-research-and-therapy”. The difference between this and “therapeutic cloning” is not great (especially when, eventually, the actual therapeutic use of such clones overtakes their use for research) – making the objection on this score more an issue of propaganda than of exactness in phrasing.
    I disagree. In fact, the only reason for using the term “therapeutic” is for propaganda purposes. The intent to use them in that manner really doesn’t matter. When cloning can be used for therapies then we can justify the usage of that term. But until then I have to agree with Stamford bioethicists David Magnus and Mildred K. Cho:

    The language used to describe scientific experiments also makes a great deal of difference in how accurately we convey the nature of stem cell research. We argued, for example, that referring to the process of deriving stem cells by somatic cell nuclear transfer as

  • Ken

    “Miracle cures from Embryonic Stem Cells and ONLY Embryonic Stem Cells! The Blind See! The Lame Walk! We Will Live Forever!” makes the most sense if you assume they read Orson Scott Card’s fantasy novel Hart’s Hope and glommed onto the magic system Card came up with for the background world.
    As explained in his non-fiction Writing Science-Fiction and Fantasy, Hart’s Hope magic came from an idea that magic was powered by life-force; i.e. convert part of a soul to energy that is consumed to fuel the magic. When Card brainstormed this idea in a creative-writing class he taught, the idea came out that the younger the soul used to fuel the magic, the more powerful the magic could be as the soul had more unlived-life in its future. The most powerful magic would come from sacrificing a newborn and consuming its soul for magic power — which was how the novel’s main villain set herself up in power.
    It appears ESC-only advocates have taken Hart’s Hope another step further. Doesn’t an unborn fetus have more life ahead of it than even a newborn?

  • http://prowoman.blogspot.com terri

    Few therapeutic cures have been found through embryonic stem cells, but adult stem cells show great promise. (http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-smith042302.asp) Why is it that the thing people don’t want us to do is always the thing that “must be the answer to life, the universe, and everything”?

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