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The Ethics of Human Cloning

     by Kass, Leon R. & James Q. Wilson

The Ethics of Human Cloning

Wilson and Kass share an abhorrence for human cloning; they both agree that it could have harmful effects on a society which is just not ready for such an accomplishment of science. Where they differ, however, is in their reasons for repugnance, and the degree of their distaste. Wilson fears a cloned child might be created without parents (ie, specifically for a laboratory situation). On the other hand, he maintains that human cloning would be another means - such as in vitro fertilization, surrogacy or adoption - for an infertile couple to have a baby. He stresses that this would be acceptable only within the boundaries of marriage, and believes that parents who are desperate for a child will love it no matter how it comes to exist on earth. Kass, in his much longer essay, provides a more complex picture of what life would be like for the cloned child, the parents of that child, and the society who would then be forced to accept another person who has, in effect, already lived. Both touch on the plausibility of a world where such figures as Saddam Hussein, Michael Jordan, or simply yourself could be recreated. The book closes with two short chapters, commentaries by Kass and Wilson, on each other’s philosophy of human cloning.  

Mr. Wilson and Mr. Kass have written an extremely thought-provoking book. There is some technical and flamboyant language, especially in the first long essay by Mr. Kass, but readers willing to wade through it will be thoroughly enlightened, if not alarmed. The description of the actual cellular process of cloning is truly amazing. The many issues presented in this book will leave you wondering not only what if, but when?

Reviewed by ls, 9/98. Other reviews by ls.