Ethics of cloning

I had three more online ethics classes today on the cloning topic. There’s an interesting diversity of opinions among the kids in the classes on this. I ask if it’s okay for a married couple who can’t have a baby naturally to have a baby that’s a clone of the mother.

  • All the kids in one class: No. You shouldn’t clone humans.
  • All the kids in another class: Sounds fine, sure, why not?

I had a follow-up question ready, asking if it’s okay for a single woman to have a clone baby of herself, if she doesn’t want a husband/boyfriend. Obviously there was no point asking this of the first class, so I skipped it. I asked the second class, thinking some of them might object to single women having children. But they all said it would be fine.

We actually start talking about cloning animals and spend half the lesson on that before tackling humans. I ask about cloning farm animals, or endangered species, or pets. So far almost all of the kids have been surprised to learn that there is a company that has been cloning pet dogs and cats since 2015. Some of think that’s okay, while others think it’s a waste of money and people should just get a new pet instead of cloning an old one, and some think it’s bad because there are already plenty of dogs and cats who need homes.

By the end of the lesson we’re discussing why human cloning, which is feasible given our current technology, hasn’t been done yet (as far as anyone knows). How would a person feel if they grow up to learn they are a clone? Most of the answers have been pretty negative.

Also today I had my face-to-face ethics class at the school this morning. It was the last lesson on the topic of tolerating/respecting other people’s beliefs. It was actually really interesting because through this topic several kids changed their minds on one of the main questions: If Anna (a child) believes smoking is okay because her grandmother smokes and is perfectly healthy, should we respect her beliefs? And should we allow her to publish her beliefs in the school newsletter?

Initially the kids were mostly against these, as they all agreed smoking was dangerously bad. But through discussion about how to argue convincingly with someone, by presenting evidence in a polite manner, and letting people make informed decisions by presenting them with multiple ideas, they started to converge on the idea that they should respect Anna’s beliefs, and even let her publish them – as long as opposing evidence was also presented. It was very impressive to see.

The weather today was delightful. Sunny, and the temperature got up to 24.4°C. That’s the warmest day since the middle of May, and very welcome it was after the weeks of chilly winter conditions. This is a real taste of spring, and with flowers bursting all over the place already – magnolias, camellias, azaleas – it really felt like spring today.

And a final thing that happened today: There was a truck accident at the end of my street. A crane truck came down the hill on the main road and lost control, ending up embedded in a pedestrian island in the middle of the cross street (my street), which was planted with shrubs and mulch, so the truck cab ended up stuck deep in the soil and couldn’t be driven out. This blocked the main road in both directions for several hours, and traffic had to be diverted to quite a large detour. I don’t know if anyone was hurt in the accident, but from what I saw it didn’t look like any other vehicles were involved, and the crane driver should have been able to get out okay. The main danger would have been if a pedestrian was crossing the cross street there—like I do regularly—they could easily have been hit. So I’m glad I wasn’t at the time.

New content today:

2 thoughts on “Ethics of cloning”

  1. Ethics of cloning should always follow a discussion of nature vs. nurture – otherwise it’s pure fiction. You shoukd watch the documentary 3 identical strangers too – I don’t mind people cloning themselves or their dead loved ones because it will not produce the same person regardless of what they do. The question then has to deal with what happens when a mother clones her dead son, and tries to treat the new child the same as his predecessor – even when they are not the same person.

    1. Yes, I start the lesson going over the science of how cloning is done, and what it actually means – how a clone is like a twin, with a different personality, not a copy of the original person.

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