Turned up to eleven: Fair and Balanced

Monday, February 25, 2002

Charles Murtaugh has been prolific in the non-blogosphere lately, with columns in Tech Central Station about mammography, and in National Review Online about cloning. I think his TCS column is right on (he knows more about breast cancer treatment than I do, but getting M.D.'s to focus on treatment is always good), but I think he goes astray in his cloning column. If I understand his objection correctly, it is that cloned humans might be treated as slave labor or property, based on the idea that they were "made" rather than born, and are thus the moral equivalent of pets. I don't buy it. A pet is what it is because of a decision we make not about how it came to be, but about where we rank it in the order of our lives (above plants, below children). Human beings display all sorts of traits and behaviors that pets do not. Not only that, but they are the same species as we are. I, like many others, am waiting for a real moral objection to cloning, of either sort. My feeling is, it would be weird to have a cloned identical twin that was (at least) 28 years younger than me, but I can't figure out what is wrong with it. Anyone who believes that a clone is a carbon copy has seen too many movies, and too few identical twins. In any event, I think we are still waiting for that argument.