Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The fuss about cloning

NZPundit doesn't get the fuss about cloning. It's simple: some people have some very strange ideas about personhood and personal identity. Such as the person in the comments who asks whether killing a clone (who, no matter what their origin, is a human being) would be murder or a property crime.

These people need to be beaten about the head with the fact that genetic identity is not personal identity. Twins prove that. They may be uncannily similar in some respects, but they are distinct persons, and universally recognised as such. The best metaphor for a clone is that of the "differently aged twin".

This doesn't mean that we should leap into cloning. As another of NZPundit's commenters pointed out, there are significant technical difficulties at the moment. Tests on animals have a high failure rate, and a tendency to produce sickly and malformed clones. Until these bugs are ironed out (and I have no doubt that they will be), it's simply too risky to clone humans. But the only moral conclusion we can draw from this is that we shouldn't be cloning humans yet.

(I'd reccommend reading Nick Agar's Perfect Copy for a quick introduction to the cloning debate. My thoughts on it are here)