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The Ethics Of Human Cloning
by Leon E. Kass And James Q. Wilson
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This slim volume is the best introduction to the ethical debate over human cloning now available, as two of America's most respected public intellectuals tangle over the question of whether it's a good idea to let people make genetic duplicates of themselves. Kass is firmly against human cloning; Wilson, although not exactly an enthusiast, sees no essential problem with it as long as cloned children are raised in loving, two-parent households.
The book is divided into two parts, with each writer laying out an initial position followed by mutual critiques. Kass seems to get the better of the exchange, but both writers present their views clearly, with occasional humor. (Wilson at one point shrugs off the concern that cloning will replace sexual reproduction: "Sex is more fun than cloning.... Procreation is a delight.") This outstanding book will shape a debate that's only just gotten underway. --John J. Miller
From Publishers Weekly
Once merely a theme for science fiction writers, the possibility of cloning human beings now joins a growing list of concerns wherein technology outstrips modern culture's ability to describe the bounds of morality. In this nifty little two-part guide to the ethical debate, Kass (Toward a More Natural Science) and Wilson (On Character) articulate opposed notions. Kass believes that cloning humans is another step in the degradation of humanity. He asserts that it's a natural progression in the assault on the traditional structure of the family, espoused by feminists, reproductive rights enthusiasts, gay liberationists and other cultural sophisticates. For his part, Wilson addresses the issue from a more open-ended position. While he recognizes the philosophical and theological problems of cloning, he believes that it may be an answer to infertility and a substitute for adoption. Both authors thrust and parry deftly with polite wit and literate analogies, in a format that allows ample space to develop both wings of the argument. The second part of the book is allocated for rebuttal and conclusions. The lively intellectual power of both writers, who cite works as diverse as William Blake's poetry and The Boys from Brazil, helps to define the consequences in absorbing terms. The book explores the moral terrain of the near future, and questions whether we are journeying to a braver or more craven new world.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In four essays on the biosocial consequences of genetic research, Kass, a noted scientist and teacher, and Wilson, a political scientist and author (Moral Judgment, LJ 4/1/97) offer explicitly conservative viewpoints that criticize human cloning, but for different ethical reasons. In essays that come across as myopic, dogmatic, and supercilious, Kass invokes the "mystery of sexuality and human renewal" to argue that human cloning is unethical because it is an asexual method that involves grave risks, perverts monogamous marriage, and threatens the social individuality of a cloned child. Less opinionated about the role of sexuality, Wilson admits that "science cannot be stopped" but nevertheless insists that the cloned human child be born to a married woman and raised only by a traditional two-parent family?a stance that ignores human diversity and today's complex social structures. These essays are valuable for bringing attention to the awesome issues that now surround the advancing science of cloning. But the two positions presented here are too similar for a critical evaluation of this subject matter, and no bibliography is provided. For highly specialized collections only.?H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, November 1998
An excellent little book...Wilson of UCLA, author of books such as The Moral Sense, is a social scientist of rare moral attentiveness, and Kass of the University of Chicago, who has written frequently also in these pages, is simply one of the wisest and most morally serious people I have even known.
John F. Haught, The Washington Times, July 19, 1998
This unusual book, not much larger than a pamphlet, features a timely and meaty dialogue between two well known ethicists on the morality of human cloning...Both (authors) have previously written well-received books, and under the sponsorship of the American Enterprise Institute they have capsulized here their thoughts on an issue that should worry all of us.
This accessible volume promises to inform the public policy debate over the permissible conduct of genetic research and the permissible uses of its discoveries.
Explores the ethics of human cloning, reproductive technology, and the teleology of human sexuality. DLC: Cloning - Moral and ethical aspects.
About the Author
Leon R. Kass is the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College of the University of Chicago. He is the author of Toward the More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs (Free Press, 1985) and The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature (Free Press, 1994).
James Q. Wilson is the James A. Collins Professor of Management and Public Policy Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Crime and Human Nature with Richard J. Hernstein (Simon & Schuster, 1985), Thinking about Crime (Vintage Books, 1977), On Character (AEI Press, 1991, 1995), The Moral Sense (Free Press, 1993), and Moral Judgment (Basic Books, 1997).
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