Cloning and Reproductive Technology
Date: Oct 28th, 2007 6:42:16 pm - Subscribe
Mood: zoned

Before reading “The Clone Wars” located in chapter one of Hinman’s text, I wasn’t definite as to my position on cloning. I had negative feelings towards the topic, however, did not contain strong feelings towards the topic. After reading “The Clone Wars” I have now become aware of actual points that both encourage and discourage the practice of stem-cell research for cloning purposes. The topic of cloning is a sensitive issue which many, if not most, individuals are morally conflicting towards. Throughout this short essay, I wish to reveal some of these conflicts of interest in order to support my position on cloning and reproductive technology.
My first argument against the practice of stem-cell research is based around an individual’s basic and fundamental freedom of choice. Germ-line engineering is a topic that, aside from vexing me, appears to be contradictory all together. Many in favor of the particular practices of germ-line engineering propose that prohibiting, or even regulating this practice is invasive, forceful, and ultimately ill-willed towards the choice of the individual. However, there is a failure to recognize the basic freedom of the future individual. All in all, germ-line engineering is invasive to the future individual, and can cause a parent to selfishly make “irreversible and unintended” decisions towards future generations. Forcing someone to likely become what you want them to be is border-lining the basis behind a lot of events that took place just before, and during the Holocaust. Basically forming a “better” race. And what then? What happens to our race once we’ve become a majority of genetically enhanced and improved beings?
This brings me to my second argument, which is the fact that our complete social structure would fall due to an increase of genetically altered beings. All the way down to reproductive methods. I would imagine that the majority of, if not all, our governmental organizations would be of a genetically engineered race. This realm of empowerment of the “enhanced” could quite possibly lead to a Nietzschean society. That of which would leave the underprivileged and non-enhanced behind to die off. Before dying off, the non-enhanced communities would become minorities. Unemployment would rise due to such vigorous job competition amongst those who are genetically altered and have so-called “natural” abilities and talents. This would probably increase the percentage of violence and crime all together. There would even be crime within genetically-enhanced communities. I’m sure identity theft and fraud would become major problems within society. All of these factors of civil disobedience would ultimately lead to a more regulated and invasive system, both socially and politically.
Aside from these arguments that obviously discourage the practice of stem-cell research, there are, in fact, rational arguments in favor of said practices. The following arguments are derived from Gregory Stock’s debate with Francis Fukuyama about Cloning. Stock stated that prohibiting the practice of stem-cell research, sex-selection, and germ-line engineering “would prevent people from making choices aimed at improving their lives that would hurt no one”. My response to this is that without people that actually have the knowledge to conduct said practices, in addition to the labs and funding that would have to back those practices, as well as the societal backing of those practices, there really is no choice. Providing a service offers people a choice.
Stock states that if the option to choose certain predispositions for ones child is there, then it will become the more favorable. I respond to this by offering an example. It has been said that “history moves towards particular perfection” (Karl Marx). This is true to a degree if one takes into account the fashion industry, our economy before a war versus after a war, music, etc. Basically, as a society, we tend to share a dominant mood. Now, let’s assume for a second that the societal zeitgeist is a shared love for hip hop. This could mean that parents would chose to genetically alter their child with a predisposition for vocabulary, dancing, singing and so on. Eventually, we end up with a predetermined destiny for the majority of a generation which leads to a substantial lack of diversity. The same could happen if most parents wanted their child’s future to be in medicine. Entertainment industries, as well as economies could decline.
This next statement made by Stock is one which I feel he has no real basis to, and if anything, is completely opinionated. He declares that the British government’s prohibition on sex-selecting is an example of an “intrusive and undesirable government”. Says who? Him? This might lead me to believe that Stock is an absolutist, which according to Hinmen, absolutists tend to believe that “their truth is the Truth”. Also, according to Stock, if we “wish to continue leading the way in shaping the future of the human race, we must explore new reproductive technologies”. In response to this claim, I ask, “Why do we want to be, and why do we have to be responsible for this?” There are certain organizations who feel that they can “better” certain third-world communities by offering food and clothing collecting by good-willed donators. What most donators don’t know is that these organizations only offer this aid to those families and communities that convert from their traditional, tribal, and life-long beliefs to a Western christian-based belief. This “shaping” of their human future is not at all something that I wish to take responsibility for. Nor do I wish to be responsible for the negative consequences bestowed upon future generations due to my decisions made presently. In addition to Stock’s claim of an undesirable British government, he asks if we, as a race, will “succumb to our fears”. I must note that if not for submitting to our fears most of the time, we all would be in bad shape!
One last statement made by Stock, in favor of sex-selecting, was that it “is beneficial to a child of the ‘wrong’ sex”, or can be beneficial to parents who don’t want to be “disappointed” by the sex of their child. My response to this ridiculous claim is a frustrated and furious one. I personally believe that a parent who is potentially bias towards a certain outcome of the gender of their child shouldn’t be a parent at all. I just don’t see how disappointment from gender could be a big enough problem to where we could start allowing parents to choose. I feel this option to coincide with the recent and current zeitgeist of our Western society. One of commercialism and consumerism. “Do you want to up-size your fries today?” “Would you like a flavor-shot for an extra twenty-five cents?” “Do you like the extended bed, or the extended cab? I’ll have both!”
We are surrounded by choices, and the only thing that sounds better than multiple choices, is even more choices. We have options, options, options in this day and age and it all has accumulated to the point of getting to choose the gender of my child. “For an extra grand we’ll make him have red hair Mr. Early.” I firmly believe we, as a race, and even more so as a nation, are over-surrounded with options and are way too concerned with being provided with choices.
In closing, Stock appears to me to not be concerned with the very possible and probable negative effects in the “long-run” scheme of things. However, to say his insight was useless would be just wrong. To know something, and to really appreciate something, you must be familiar with it’s opposite. Therefore, his claims were very useful in that sense. After doing some research, I definitely feel that I have a firm opinion against the topic of stem-cell research and reproductive technology. With more research can come new insight, however, with the points just discussed, I feel that I can confront this moral conflict without “ignorance” and with “good-will”.
Comments: (2)

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rburton76 - October 28th, 2007
Well, I'm impressed that you read a whole book on it. I know it wouldn't have held my interest. But I worry what society will become without genetic engineering. Charles Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton was the first one to take up the cause of eugenics and it really is a decent cause. No one's going to touch it with a ten foot pole for another hundred years because of Hitler and negative eugenics, eliminating incentives for people with undesirable traits (such as an aversion to employment) to breed is about the only form of eugenics you'll find practiced.

The problem is, intelligent people, as a group, make more money and have fewer children. And they inter-marry. These trends have been statistically established and there isn't much that can be said to contradict the principle of assortive mating. Now, the trouble is that the very permanent underclass you fear genetic engineering will lead to (you've been watching Gattica, haven't you?) is going to develop on its own. Heterogenaity is ideal but, slowly but surely, society is going to bifurcate into what Arther Murray referred to as "an intellectual elite" and what some scientist featured in a Yahoo news story referred to as a "goblin-like underclass". But the Orwellian dystopia of 1984 can still be avoided with genetic engineering. What child would not rather be intelligent and attractive, given the choice, over stupid and ugly? I can see that you have some point when with your talk of a parent forcing a particular talent upon a child where the child might be happier with another one, but I would tend to suspect that the genetics that allow true genius to surface in any arena -- art, music, writing, physics, or what have you -- in the absence of out and out cloning, would be difficult to isolate.

We're not all beautiful, unique snowflakes who can be president someday if we really put our minds to it, whatever your parents and teachers might have told you. And if science can help us crawl a little further out of the mud, I'm all for it. Imagine a world without violent crime, without poverty, where everyone recognizes that bad sex and good drugs are the cornerstones of a great democracy. I'm kidding and it's a little late for me to put together an essay as structured as yours, but you see my point.


grover - October 30th, 2007
I'm afraid that eugenics has proven to create mud, and feel that we have come a substaintial ways in regards to discrimination. By furthering our experimentation in these types of reproductive technology, we at the same time welcoming segregation back into our societal structure. It can and will cause our societal structure to become, at first, full of competition. Competition of a nature that we have never truly seen before. Every aspect of our society will be affected. All educational systems will become institutions for the enhanced and the advanced. Job competition would leave unimaginable numbers of the population without employment, and without homes. Political majorities would be made up of the enhanced as well. And I don’t think you truly realize that it wouldn’t just be about wanting a cute and smart baby. Designer babies would be the trend. Predispositions would not at all be difficult to target (do the research).
I’m not at all suggesting that “we are all beautiful, unique snowflakes..”, quite the opposite actually. If we were all beautiful, unique snowflakes I imagine we wouldn’t be considering practices like this. The fact that we’re not snowflakes, that we are but selfish humans is the thing to worry about. A world of increased poverty and crime is exactly where this can, and will take us. Find time to take interest and you might see.


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