Policy, Science:
JoT re
Peter re JoT re "Peter on Cloning"

Peter—

OK, I took your question the wrong way. Let me start over.

I'm cool with cloning. I don't want scientific investigation to be circumscribed by people's sense of uneasiness. But here's what remains creepy, to me, about cloning and genetic engineering of humans. It's that intentionally monkeying with a human genes challenges the way people see themselves.

I like games. I've always liked games. I like the strategy. I like the structure. I like the competition (provided I win, or, in the case of RPGs, at least don't lose). I've played some serious chess, I've played a lot of hobby games, I make my living at hobby games, and I work up kids games for fun. Liking games is part of my identity. It's part of who I am. If my parents told me, "Yeah, we figured you'd like games, because we engineered you for intelligence, pattern-appreciation, competitiveness, etc," I'd be a little sad. It would mean that a trait I considered my own was actually "used." My liking games would no longer be me being me, it would be me fulfilling my parents' plans.

Now that's a silly way to think. It's silly to feel ownership over one's own fundamental traits. I didn't choose to like games. I didn't choose to like women. It's just the way I turned out. But as long as nobody else chose for me to like games and women, I've got more claim to these traits than anyone else. These traits feels as though they're mine. If I learned that genetic engineers had steered me that way, that would challenge the commonplace idea of self.

But really, that's OK. I don't think our sense of self reflects ultimate truth, and it could use some challenging.

—JoT
December 2003

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