Woman Clones Dead Cat

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This is the first case like this that I've seen (not counting fictional cases such as in The Sixth Day). A woman lost her cat and decided to replace it with its clone. She found someone who would do it and now has her cat's clone. Hat tip: McConchie

What do I think of this? I hope she realizes that the clone will have a natural life span as long as her dead cat's natural life span would have been had it not died. Other than that issue, I'm not sure why this in itself should raise any serious ethical worries. When I first found this, I wanted to use it as an excuse to type up a thorough discussion of the moral issues raised in cloning, but I've got two reasons not to do it at the moment. First, I've got a long list of things to blog about and don't feel like doing a long post right now (this not feeling like doing it is independent of the next issue, which is just another reason not to feel like it). Second, I've got an injured finger at the moment and don't feel like typing the whole thing out in index finger mode. So I'm just going to issue a challenge: what is wrong with what this woman did, besides the one concern I raised? My claim is that there's nothing wrong with it, and I'm challenging anyone to give me an argument that I'm wrong. I can think of reasons not to do it, but I'm not sure they're moral reasons.

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TITLE: Cloned Cats: Immoral? URL: http://www.tallent.us/blog/PermaLink.aspx?guid=31f1b717-e3e5-433b-8b37-d9a90c123a18 IP: 66.25.230.243 BLOG NAME: Randomize DATE: 01/12/2005 02:07:26 AM Read More

18 Comments

I think that it's morally bankrupt to be spending $65 000 for a pet simply for one's own enjoyment.

I think it's morally wrong that she has formed such a strong relationship with an animal; a relationship so strong that she ca't let it go.

I think it's wrong for her to clone an animal because she can't get over the loss of her previous cat. By spending huge dollars she is able to sidestep the grieving process somewhat. Death is something we should learn to deal with not cover up by throwing money at it.

I'm sure there are other reasons against what she's done, and probably some for, but in my mind it's simply not right.

Forget the specifics of her case. That's not what I'm asking. I want to know if the action of cloning a cat is morally wrong, not whether her reasons for doing so or her method of doing so (by paying so much money) are good ones. My guess here is that most of the arguments people use against human cloning simply don't apply in the case of cats, and the others are just bad arguments (or non-arguments) to begin with.

I agree Jeremy, I think the arguments against cloning humans do not apply to cloning cats. Animals do not have souls, therefore it makes no difference whether they are a clone or not in my opinion.

I'll leave aside your assertion that animals don't have souls and focus in on why that's even relevant. How does having a soul make a difference to cloning? A human clone would have its own soul, just as any other human would. It's created by combining an egg and a sperm, just as with any other human. The only difference is that you radically change its genetic structure. I'm not sure how the soul is relevant to that. If radically changing someone's genetic structure at the earliest age is wrong, it's not because of a soul.

Can it be considered morally wrong if it adds to the climate of justifying human cloning?

Rey, that would require two premises, neither of which I'm willing to grant:

1. An act is wrong merely because it has bad consequences.
2. The good consequences of allowing cloning in general (even among humans) are not as good as the bad consequences of allowing cloning in general.

I'm not a consequentialist, so I won't grant the first assumption.

I haven't seen a good in-principle argument against cloning of humans. All the arguments I accept against cloning humans have to do with particular aspects of the process they have developed and not against what it would be if it didn't have those problems. The problems I'm talking about are the aged DNA problem I mentioned in the post and the fact that they have to destroy many embryos to succeed once, and many that take don't make it to birth anyway. I won't grant the second assumption unless I see a good argument against a kind of human cloning that wouldn't have those features.

Richard, those are some good suggestions. As I said in my comment at your blog, I'm not convinced that you've met my challenge as stated.

Most of your suggestions as to why this woman's action was wrong wouldn't apply to every case of cloning a cat, including ones far in the future when doing so might not cost much, cats might be near-extinct, it might reveal much about mammal reproduction and genetic origins of various traits that could be used for important scientific discovery, artificial wombs could be used, and we had much more knowledge of the effects of genetic manipulation. In such a situation, I think all your challenges would be met, and the act might not be wrong.

You make a good case against doing this now in the way it was done, but that wasn't what I was asking about.

I completely agree that cloning is not inherently immoral, and that is why I failed to meet the challenge.

For me, as a Christian, the act itself is not the issue, as is the case with *most* issues of morality or ethics (killing [including abortion], eating, drinking, wardrobe, or even "speaking the truth" all have their situational/intent-based moral boundaries), but rather the context of affected parties, the "opportunity cost" of alternate decisions, etc.

These situational variables are where the true moral dilemmas exist that both sides usually ignore--one side because they fear technology/"playing God", the other because they worship technology and do not believe in any morality that does not derive its value from naturalistic utilitarianism.

For whatever it's worth: I truly believe that trying to clone people is "playing God". The only reasons people want to clone are for selfish reasons. They are totally obsessed with their own right to have a clone or to clone dead relatives, without any regard to the welfare of the child. And whether it be animal or whatever. People were not intended to "make" other people. Furthermore, who knows whether or not the clone will have a soul? The clone will not be made by God, but instead by humans. After these clones die, are they going to pass over to heaven or hell, although they were not created by God himself? This whole, entire thing is just not right!

I truly believe that trying to clone people is "playing God".

Ashley, I'd like to know what 'playing God' means besides just standing for 'morally wrong'. You can't get away with the "playing God" pseudo-argument without addressing what I've said in this post.

The only reasons people want to clone are for selfish reasons. They are totally obsessed with their own right to have a clone or to clone dead relatives, without any regard to the welfare of the child.

It's certainly not true that the only reason people want to clone is because of dead relatives. The primary motivation has to do with reproduction in cases of infertility, which in most cases is entirely about the child.

I guess you oppose sexual reproduction, then? Cloning is the joining of a normal egg and a normal sperm, just as in any other kind of sexual reproduction. The only difference is that it involves massive genetic engineering to replace the genome with a different one from a person that we already know to have grown up just fine (whereas other kinds of genetic engineering don't have such guarantees).

Furthermore, who knows whether or not the clone will have a soul?

Who knows if you've got a soul? Our understanding of whether something has a soul is irrelevant. A clone is a biological human being the same way you are, the same way someone conceived by in vitro fertilization is. Any suggestion otherwise doesn't seem to me to fit the facts.

The clone will not be made by God, but instead by humans.

How limited a vieww of God do you have such that God can't have anything to do with the actions of human beings? A biblical view of what God is responsible for allows that God can create a whole body of scripture through the workings of human beings. It allows that two people who have sex can therefore create someone new, while it's just as true to say that God created that new person. Why wouldn't the same be true of cloning? Is this somehow not on God's watch?

its not right to clone u cant play god people let nature take its corse with out deith and losses of others and loved ones we wont have emotions and we will all look to cloning to help us we will be empty .

Cloning is good or bad. It depends on the way you look at it. It's bad to clone people, coz people need to be different, to feel like they are one of a kind, and no-one could replace them. But cloning endangered species, or extict animals (Just not dinosaurs) is a nice idea.

The reason I don't think that's a good argument is that it's not wrong to conceive identical twins, which are biologically the equivalent of clones in the sense that you think it would be wrong to create deliberately because of the uniqueness issue. I just can't see how that would be wrong. I don't have a right to being the only person with my genetic makeup. The existence of an identical twin would not make me no longer an individual, and neither would the existence of a clone. You're right that people are one-of-a-kind. You're wrong that cloning would remove that. It simply wouldn't. Each person would still be one-of-a-kind, just as identical twins are.

Just reading this blog, I have noticed a consistent point - that human cloning would involve a human egg and sperm and the fusing of both as in sexual reproduction. This isn't the method by which scientists have actually gone about the process of cloning in such experiments as 'Dolly the sheep'. They have been using cell nuclear replacement - that is using the DNA from an adult somatic cell and exchanging it for the nuclear DNA in the ovum (which is only half that is required in itself). Thus it is very different from normal sexual reproduction.

I was under the impression that they started with a fertilized egg, removed its nucleus, and replaced it with another one from an adult cell. Everything I've read about this procedure has given me that impression. Can you point me to something that contradicts that?

A potential moral issue with what this woman did is that she essentially made a copy of something that should normally be unique. Although the deceased cat probably doesn't care, I'm sure the idea of somebody being able to copy an individual's uniqueness is frightening to many and could lead to many unethical possibilities. I will use music as an example. Musicians who create their own music, feel that they have the rights to it, they own it. However, when that music is illegally copied, musicians feel as if their music has been stolen. Now apply this to cloning, to clone a being without its consent is essentially stealing its genes. Whether or not creatures should have "copyrights" over their genes is a different issue, the point is that most people who are cloned without their conset would probably feel like something was stolen from them.
Why would anyone want to clone somebody else without their consent? I don't know, maybe because they can't get their consent since the person is deceased? Or perhaps the target to clone is a celebrity that somebody is infatuated with? I'm sure there are many reasons you can come up with.
How would you feel if you found out that somebody not only named their baby after you, but also gave it all of your traits?

So identical twins have had their rights violated? This sort of thing happens all the time in nature, and no one thinks anything of it. Two people with exactly the same genetic structure are still two different people, and each one's uniqueness is still that person's uniqueness. You argument assumes that I'm nothing more than my genes.

Furthermore, you're assuming that cloning requires cloning without the consent of the person being cloned. Why should that be? The mere act of cloning tells you nothing of whether the genes used were gained forcibly, by deceit, or by full consent of an informed party. It's not an argument against cloning to say that cloning shouldn't be done without consent. It's an argument against doing something to someone without their consent.

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