Would cloning necessarily undermine human potential and sense of self?

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Mirrors might reflect genetic similarities between human clones but they will never capture the traits that make people individuals, according to Brown University philosopher Dan W. Brock.

In the opinion section Viewpoint of the April 12 issue of Science, Brock responds to three arguments concerning the potential of human reproductive cloning to undermine our sense of self, individuality and uniqueness. While human cloning has not yet occurred, advances in science hold out the possibility.

Brock challenges the arguments that cloning would undermine our uniqueness, the value or worth of human beings, and the clones autonomy in making life decisions. Confusion about the effects of genetics on peoples lives, however, could produce some of those fears about individuals sense of self.

Our valuable uniqueness is not just genetic, but is the full array of qualitative traits ... that define an individuals sense of identity, Brock wrote. Much of what defines our unique individuality concerns our history, the particular relationships with specific others that we have formed, our particular projects and achievements or accomplishments, how we are treated by others, and the times we have lived through.

For example, to one person being a Christian may be a central feature of self-identity, while to another being a Christian may be relatively unimportant to the sense of identity or self, Brock wrote. The same is true of other defining properties such as nationality, occupation and political ideals.


Contact: Kristen Cole
Brown University

Page: 1

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