David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Poiesis and Praxis 1 (1):17-33 (2001)
It is widely believed that reproductive human cloning is morally wrong and should be prohibited because it infringes on human uniqueness, individuality, freedom and personal identity. The philosophical and ethical discussion has, however, shown that it is far more difficult than might initially be supposed to sustain arguments against cloning on these and related grounds. More recently, a potentially viable argument, initially put forward by Hans Jonas, has regained new prominence. The argument holds that cloning is wrong because it denies the clone an `open future', that is, the ability to freely shape her own personal identity, life plans, self-chosen goals, etc. After a critical exposition of the argument, I argue as follows: If one understands the Open Future Argument as an argument about the welfare of the cloned child, then it cannot show that cloning harms the child in a person-affecting sense of harming and benefiting. If, on the other hand, one understands the argument in a non-person-affecting sense, then some, but not all, reproductive cloning decisions can be shown to be wrong. The argument does not show, however, that cloning ought to be prohibited by law. While cloning, like other widely accepted reproductive decisions, will sometimes fail to minimize harm to `the child', such acts â to the extent that they do not constitute harm in a person-affecting sense â ought to be tolerated by proponents of the Open Future Argument. Attempts to prohibit reproductive choices on the basis that they are not optimal, will undermine the same set of values that the Open Future Argument seeks to uphold
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