Response to Pro-Cloning Article by Prof. Julian Savulescu

Bibliographic reference

“Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics Staff.” <;.

Savulescu, Julian.  Curriculum Vitae.  <;.  2007.

Savulescu, Julian.  “Equality, Cloning and Clonism: Why We Must Clone.”  <;.  2005.

Main Claim of the Article

Savulescu argues that human cloning could be an invaluable tool for reproduction and the production of life-saving stem cells, and the arguments against its morality and legality are baseless and reactionary[1].

Support for the Main Claim of the Article

Savulescu’s article has two arguments: cloning has the potential to benefit society, and cloning should not be illegal.  He supports the first argument in his second paragraph.  He notes that cloning can be a supplement for in-vitro fertilization, and that more importantly it would be a boon in the production of stem cells.  A cloned embryo would have the same DNA as its donor, and thus its harvest could help rehabilitate the sick more effectively than donations from strangers and family members do.

The author then turns his attention to the moral arguments against cloning.  He first notes that a clone would not have the same personality as its “father” because environment and choices also affect our phenotype (1).  The argument that cloning is “against human dignity” is reactionary, not principled; the same argument was made about identical twins in the past (2).  The “right to genetic individuality” is spurious given the case of identical twins.  The very same people who say a clone’s life would be unbearably shameful would be the cause of that shame; if everyone was tolerant, a clone would not feel psychic pain about his origins.  Savulescu admits that at the moment, cloning is unsafe and should not be used on humans, but if the process is perfected, there is simply no reason clones would be different from normal human beings or should be banned.

Your Evaluation of the Quality of the Information Provided in this Article

To quote the syllabus, “I believe this article provides quality information that should be accepted as part of this report in Chemistry 83.”  The article is timely: the Reproductive Cloning Network published it in 2005, and it lists Savulescu as the Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, a post he attained in 2002.  The article is credible: Savulescu is the director of Oxford’s Uehiro Center for Practical Ethics[2].  His position and his impressive Curriculum Vitae show he is one of the leaders in the field of bioethics: Savulescu “has published over 100 articles in journals such as the British medical Journal, Lancet, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Bioethics, the Journal of Medical Ethics, American Journal of Bioethics, Medical Journal of Australia and Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology[3].”  He has graduated from Australian medical school, so he has scientific chops as well.  He raised over $500,000 in grants in the years 2000-2004, so he has respect from his community.  The publisher, the Reproductive Cloning Network, seems to be legitimate.  The opinion expressed in Savulescu’s article is in accord with the themes of articles mentioned in his CV (pages 1-7).  I was not able to track Savulescu’s article to another source, but I did so for other articles on their site.

As for the quality of the writing itself, the article provides concise ethical arguments.  I would have preferred more detailed treatments of the scientific potential of cloning and of the ethical objections of cloning opponents, but this work appears tailor-made for a newspaper editorial, and it serves its purpose well.  I accept the scientific support as legitimate on the basis of Savulescu’s wide knowledge of the subject.

[1] Savulescu, Julian.  “Equality, Cloning and Clonism: Why We Must Clone.”  Page 2.   <;.  2005.

[2] Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics Staff.  <;

[3] “Professor Julian Savulescu.”  Page 1.   2007. <;.  2007.

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