Science, Policy:

[This is a post from Peter Donis in response to an entry in "In the News" and my reply to him in my guestbook.]

"While it might be creepy for someone to clone a human being as a way to reproduce, this is the land of the free, and we have the right to creep out our neighbors." —JoT

Very true, but it may still be worth asking why some people are likely to think it's creepy to clone a human being. A better way to frame the issue might be: what, if any, ethical questions are raised when you produce a human being in any fashion other than random genetic/sexual roulette? Is it in some way essential to our sense of individual uniqueness that nobody had any real control in advance over what our genes would be like? Or let's make it as personal and concrete as possible: If you knew that your genetic makeup had been entirely designed in a lab in advance by people who understood exactly how and to what extent each gene would affect your personal characteristics and traits, how, if at all, would that change your sense of selfhood?

A tough question, but my answer is still pretty simple: as long as I was able to grow and mature to a point where I was a normal, functioning adult human being with normal capacities for free will and moral judgment, I wouldn't care whether, or how, my genes were designed to help me get there. The only thing that would stick in my craw would be if somebody purposely designed me to be *less* than fully functioning in some area. But if the designer's only purpose was to give me the best possible shot in life, genetically speaking, and if that purpose was fulfilled to a reasonable extent, I don't think it would bother me that much.

Obviously this still leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but maybe it can at least help to frame the issue.

—Peter Donis
May 2003