Monthly Archives: January 2014

Doppelgangers Are Not the Same

Imagine that cloning oneself could produce an exact replica. The clone would be the same age, have the same mind, and even the same scar that he received as a kid. Many people wish cloning worked this way because they could then be in two places at once and double their productivity rate. In addition, as long as both the person and the clone were treated as individuals this useful procedure seems ethical because the person wants to be cloned, and since the clone has an identical reasoning pattern, the clone would also consent to being a clone. Unfortunately, cloning does not work this way, and the clone would in reality be a completely different individual with identical DNA to the original person.

In his essay “Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Humans: The Wisdom of Repugnance” Leon Kass lists many uses of human cloning. Two of these uses include “’replacing’ a beloved spouse or child who is dying or has died” and “replicating individuals of great genius, talent or beauty” (Holland 34). Like the scenario discussed earlier, these two circumstances are completely impossible because cloning does not duplicate a person. Even identical twins, which are actually clones of each other, are completely different individuals altogether. According to Tina Hesman Saey, “by birth, genetic doubles use their DNA differently…by regulating the activity of certain genes, they can profoundly influence how the DNA blueprint is used to create and operate a living organism.” ( Hence, the clone may not look the same or have the same physical capacities of the original person due to these epigenetic differences. For instance, check out these clones (identical twins), Otto and Ewald:


Moreover, underlying diseases that were completely shut off or mild could become severe in the cloned individual. If the clone is living a miserable existence due to a diseased state, then this raises even more ethical questions concerning the cloning process.

Furthermore, in the case of cloning females, there is a chance that they could express entirely different genes. This was made evident in the case where a calico cat named Rainbow was cloned, but the CC (carbon copy), the clone, had a completely different fur color. This is because fur color is partially determined by genes that reside on the X chromosome. Female mammals have two X chromosomes, but only one is activated in each cell. The activation pattern varies amongst cells. When CC was cloned, her cells did not adopt the activation pattern of Rainbow. “Rainbow and CC are living proof that a clone will not look exactly like the donor of its genetic material” (Genetic Science Learning Center).

Left: CC (or Carbon Copy). Right: Rainbow. Photo courtesy TAMU, College of Veterinary Medicine. (from
Left: CC (or Carbon Copy). Right: Rainbow. Photo courtesy TAMU, College of Veterinary Medicine. (from:

                 Even if epigenetics did not play a role in development, the environment would drastically effect the clone’s development. The clone cannot undergo every single nurturing experience of the original person; hence, they cannot develop an identical mindset, personality, talent, or desires of the original person. The clone would develop into an individual that may not want to have the pressures of living up to the potential of someone else.

Subsequently, it is highly implausible to “replace” a lost family member or friend as well as to “replicate” a celebrity (or rather their talent). Doing so requires duplicating a person’s nature and nurturing exactly. In any matter, this subjects one to appreciate and enjoy, instead of taking for granted, the rare gift that is human life. Additionally, it allows the introduction of new skills into society and/or the creation of a legacy of person who has passed away.



Genetic Science Learning Center. “Why Clone?.” Learn.Genetics 26 January 2014

Kass, Leon R. “Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Humans: The Wisdom of    Repugnance.” Arguing About Bioethics. Ed. Stephen Holland. New York:   Routledge, 2012. 130-48. Print.

Lloyd, Sam. “Check out Identical Twins Otto and Ewald.” The Sam Effect. Inbound     Marketing, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.

Saey, Tina Hesman. “Study Shows Where Identical Twins Part Ways.” Science News. Society for Science & the Public, 17 July 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2014.

Cloning: hard cases can make bad laws

The reality of cloning is now a global phenomenon, and as technologies improve the possibility of human cloning becomes more plausible. The use of cloning to manufacture, as mentioned by both Leon Kass and David Elliot in Arguing about Bioethics, exists in the realm of animal technologies, and eerily, China is now cloning pigs on an “industrial scale” ( The photo below depicts the mass production of pigs that is now possible due to genetic cloning. Therefore, there is only a short time until human cloning is efficient and safe enough to enter the market place. Interestingly within the United States, individual states take different stances on cloning, and cloning boundaries are blurred across the nation. (, ). As technological advances further blur lines, there needs to be conversation on the moral boundaries of cloning as a form of “assisted reproduction,” and critical engagement is necessary to translate moral standards into public policy that will govern scientific procedures.


Cloning takes the discussion of human experimentation another step further, and challenges the ethical line of human subject experiments. The first cases of cloning would be all encompassing biological, genetic, social, and procreation experiments. Science has already taken baby steps towards further human experimentation such as cloning through techniques like prenatal genetic screening and parental genetics testing. This brings up debates about selection, the power of positive selection, and what can be categorized as too much selection (Holland 153) David Elliot in “Uniqueness, Individuality, and Human Cloning” presents a weak objection to the manufacturing argument, and instead he argues, “It can simply be a choice to have a child of one’s own in the only way possible” (Holland 153). Elliot’s counterargument against the manufacturing objection highlights defendable and seemingly reasonable motivations for cloning, such as infertility or genetic diseases, and he overlooks unreasonable motivations for positive selection, such as for control over sex, intelligence, or beauty. This reasoning treads a dangerous path, and the President’s Council on Bioethics warns “hard cases can make bad laws” ( Therefore, it is essential to look beyond the logical and sensible cases that seem to necessitate cloning, to cases of inappropriate and dangerous motivations. Difficult life circumstances relating to fertility can blind a society, or an individual, of the moral implications of bringing new life into this world (

Thus, evaluation of cases of cloning will involve prudence. There are recognizable and defendable motivations to clone in order to produce a child, but no one can articulate how much control and design selection amounts to a product, rather than a child. Tough cases can make bad laws, and it will be a societal test for how justifications like those presented by Elliot will affect public policy and laws.

Joyelle Flemming in her previous blog post brings up interesting considerations about the repercussions of cloning on the future. While in time our generation or future generations may come at accept cloning as a form of reproductive assistance, how will this impact future generations and the relationship of science and society? Cloning conversations must address the implications on the future and how man-made selection through cloning will effect the development of the human species as well as the world. While there is no perfected cloning technique to date, considerations of the morality of cloning should address cloning in context to the present as well as projected techniques.



Elliot, David. “Uniqueness, individuality, and human cloning.” Arguing about Bioethics. London: Routledge, 2012. Print.

“Human Cloning Laws.” Human Cloning Laws. National Conference of State Legislatures, Jan. 2008. <>.

“Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry — Full Report.” PCBE: Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry — Full Report. The Presidents Council on Bioethics, July 2002. Web. <>.

Kass, Leon R. “Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Humans: The Wisdom of Repugnance.” Arguing about Bioethics. London: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Nikas, Nikolas T. “Human Cloning Laws: 50 State Survey.” Bioethics Defense Fund, 19 May 2011. Web. <>.

Shukman, David. “China Cloning on an ‘industrial Scale'” BBC News. BBC, 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. <>.

Missing Data

Are personality, identity, and social relations dictated by the environment, or is it an entity that is controlled solely on genes? Are those entities partly controlled by environment and partly controlled by genes? This profound question has continually peered its head into the conversation of many hot topics and discussions. This question has even found its way into the medical topic of cloning. As David Elliott claims, “…it is not clear that the cloned individual, like any other natural twin, needs to see her individuality as importantly connected to her genome, or even to phenotypic similarities with others” (p 158). Some individuals feel that cloning diminishes a sense of uniqueness in both the clone and the cloned person. Proponents against cloning also say that the lack of genetic variability creates a non-unique genome which will “impose limitations on an individual’s capacity for self-development, leading to a sense of disempowerment and personal inadequacy” (p.159) and that this lack of self-development affects human worth. In Elliott’s view, genetics is not the strongest factor that decides personality, identity and social relations. Thus creating clones from the genes of a donor does not restrict an individual, or clone from “feeling non-unique” (p.158). Therefore the idea that not having a “felt identity being psychologically damaging is not plausible” thus this is not a strong reason against cloning (p 158).

Though Elliott presented a few points that did have a sense of validity, there were a few points I want to argue against. Elliott argues that if biological similarities that persist between the cloned individual and the clone can reduce individuality and limit self-development, then the same could be said about twins and triplets. He also explains that environment is a better determinant of identity than genetics due to the data that demonstrates that separated twins show more divergent personalities. However, I believe that he omitted the myriads of data that demonstrate how twins that are separated tend to grow up with similar traits, likes, and dislikes. He cannot argue that genetics does not play a strong role in identity and thus he cannot argue that clones, who have similar genes, will develop different personalities and unique characters based on environment. Mikayla Stern-Ellis and Emily Nappi, two young girls from northern and southern California were shocked to find that they were half sisters, they both shared a sperm donor from Colombia. Having lived in different environments from birth up until their undergraduate career in college, it is remarkable to see how strong a role genetics plays in behavior. These sisters grew up in different parts of California, yet have very similar features such as a cleft chin, thick, curly hair, same skin tone, and same smile. Both also have similar interests in the sciences. And even more, they both ended up at Tulane University thousands of miles away from California. It is easy to say that their genes played a very strong role in their identity and personality. (Watch Video Here)

Elliott also omitted the fact that clones will more than likely be in the same environment as the cloned person and therefore their environment will similarly mold their personalities. Thus, there is a factor of developing very similar personalities since they are in the same environment and have identical genes. Elliott therefore cannot argue that uniqueness will not be threatened.

The argument that cloning will inhibit uniqueness is actually a very strong argument against cloning in that the large similarities between the cloned person and the clone will limit self-development and may feel of less worth. In my opinion, Elliott is missing pieces of data in his counter-argument to support cloning.

Elliott, David. “Uniqueness, individuality, and human cloning.” In Arguing about Bioethics, edited by Stephen Holland, 149-62. New York: Routledge, 2012.


The hype about Dolly

Dolly Time

I decided that I wanted to do a bit of research on Dolly, the sheep that captured the world’s attention and sparked much debate about cloning for the public. All I knew of Dolly was that she existed and was a clone. She was heralded as a huge scientific breakthrough, which unarguably, she certainly was. But much to my surprise, it’s not for the reason I thought (and many others I’m sure). I believed that Dolly was famous because she was the first animal to be cloned and honestly, to this day, still believed her to be the only successfully cloned animal. Neither of these is true. Dolly is not even the first sheep to be cloned. Nor was she the first sheep to be cloned by Ian Wilmut of The Roslin Institute who is famous for her creation.

Dolly was actually the ninth of ten sheep cloned at The Roslin Institute by Ian Wilmut (2). So why is it that she is the only one that I have ever heard about and the only one that the media so desperately followed the story of? Because even though Dolly was not the first, she was the most significant (scientifically speaking).

All 10 of these sheep were cloned using the most common process of doing so: Nuclear Transfer. This is when the nucleus of an existing cell is removed and replaced with that of a new donor cell. I was curious about what was done with the “old” nucleus (wondering if it could pose as an ethical issue of its own), but couldn’t find any information about it. The 9 other sheep cloned at The Roslin Institute were cloned using embryonic cells. As stated in David Elliot’s paper (Chapter 12), Dolly was considered a break through because of the fact that she was cloned using the adult cells taken from an adult ewe’s udder. It was the first time something had been cloned using cells other than embryonic cells. Why had that never been done before?

Dolly Process

The body contains many different types of cells, such as blood cells, liver cells, skin cells, etc. These specific types of cells are referred to as differentiated cells and although all of them contain the same genetic information, they “can only access the genes needed for its particular function” (3). Differentiated cells were thought to be non-reprogrammable and therefore it was not believed possible to clone an entire being using only differentiated cells. Ian Wilmut proved that this was false and that it was in fact very possible to use differentiated (adult) cells for cloning. What he did was to take these adult cells and grew them under “starvation conditions” (3). This entails depriving the cells of various forms of “nutrients” such as carbon for instance. This causes the cells to de-differentiate and enter what is called the g0 state, essentially turning them back into unspecific, embryonic cells. This is why Dolly was special. Her creation represented the possibility to turn a differentiated cell back into any kind of cell.

There is some controversy about the successfulness of Dolly. The process by which she was created was without a doubt a novel success. But how did Dolly fare in regards to health and life? Wanting Dolly to live as normal a life as possible, she was allowed to breed and over the course of her life gave birth to 6 lambs. In 2001, Dolly developed arthritis which was odd for a sheep of only 5 years. The cause of this was never determined and after medication, her stiffness disappeared (1). In 2000, 2 of the other cloned sheep died of sheep pulmonary adenomatosis (SPA) which causes tumours to grow on the sheep’s lungs (1). Later, one of Dolly’s own babies contracted the disease and it was confirmed that Dolly herself was infected. When she was seen coughing in February of 2003, she was given anaesthetics and a CT scan was performed. The scan confirmed the presence of tumours on her lungs. Not wanting Dolly to suffer from this painful disease, the decision was made not to allow her to regain consciousness, and an over dose of anaesthesia was administered and Dolly was put to sleep on February 14, 2003. Sheep generally live to be around 12 years old and the development of SPA is not commonly seen in young sheep. Dolly developed it around the age of 5. This, along with her development of arthritis, has caused concern that using differentiated, adult cells causes premature aging in the clones. This has yet to be proven. (1)

Kass, in Chapter 11, calls for a universal ban on human cloning while still allowing “all cloning research on animals to go forward” insisting on the “inviolable distinction between animal and human cloning” (146-147). Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh have successfully developed genetically modified chickens   that are incapable of transmitting the avian bird flu. They have been provided with an RNA molecule that stops the reproduction of the virus, and although they can still be infected with the bird flu, the fact that they are incapable of passing it on to other chickens has the potential of stopping the transmission of the virus. (1) It is easy to see the appeal of genetic modification in this sense. But again, a distinction must be made both between animals and humans and between cloning and genetic modification.

Just as an interesting side note, many animals have actually been successfully cloned. They include cows, cats, a deer, goats, sheep, frogs, horses, mice, pigs, monkeys, wolves and dogs. One of the dogs (according to Wikipedia) glows when exposed to UV lighting. (4)








Kass’s Argument Against Cloning

Leon Kass argues in the article “Why we should ban the cloning of humans: the wisdom of repugnance” that we need to enact a universal ban on cloning, as cloning is an insult to both morality and human dignity.  What I found so interesting about Kass’ argument was that he describes not only to the logical but also the emotional consequences of cloning.  Kass uses the feeling of repugnance to do just this.

The Process of Cloning:

Cloning is the process of creating a cell, cell product, or organism that is genetically identical to the unit from which it was derived. The nucleus of a mature and unfertilized egg is removed and replaced with a nucleus obtained from a specialized cell of an adult organism, which contains almost all the hereditary material.  While experts make it clear that cloning is not like Xeroxing, due to differences in environment and circumstances, the clone with share the same genome as the donor.

Argument of Revulsion

Kass argues that there is a reason most people feel deep revulsion to the idea of cloning human beings, a feeling similar to the one we get when considering cannibalism or incest.  He describes potential situations that could arise in the future if cloning is allowed in order to bring about disgust and emotional fears in readers such as: the mass production of identical human beings, women giving birth to and rearing a genetic copy of herself or someone in the family, replacing someone who has died with an exact copy, the narcissism of those who clone themselves, and the hubris required to control life and control destiny allowing man to play God in a way that is not natural.  Kass understands that revulsion is not entirely a valid argument, since there are plenty of examples of things that our ancestors would have been repulsed now that we see perfectly normal. However, he describes repugnance as the emotional expression of deep wisdom; wisdom beyond reason’s power to fully articulate.

Cloning Goes Against the Natural:

While I thought the emotional argument Kass posed was strong, he does not leave it to stand-alone.  He supports his argument by providing evidence as to why cloning would be damaging to the children, the family dynamic, and the process of human procreation. Kass argues that sexual reproduction is established by nature and is a process that should not be influenced by human design. He worries that cloning threatens confusion of identity and individuality and that the cloning of human beings represents a giant step toward transforming procreation into manufacture, straying from the natural and pushing children to become products of human will and design rather than a result of a loving family.

Reflecting on Kass’s Argument:

I can see where this argument for the need to maintain a traditional family and reproduction system may not appeal to some people, however I agree with his desire to maintain the natural cycle of birth, procreation, and death. I think Kass does a good job of appealing to both the emotions and logic of readers and was effective in convincing me that cloning humans is something that needs to be banned worldwide.


Sources: Kass, Leon R. “Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Humans: The Wisdom of Repugnance.” Arguing about Bioethics. London: Routledge, 2012. N. pag. Print.

Blog Post 1:Dolly & Eugenics

One of the over arching questions of cloning is obviously whether or not we should clone animals or humans, which can filter down into the question of just because we have the ability or technology to do it should we? Dolly was one of the first animals to be cloned, and the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell (“Cloning Dolly the Sheep”). Dolly wasn’t cloned for the sake of seeing if it could be down. Researchers were looking into the transfer of human genes into animals to produce certain proteins that are helpful in the treatment of human diseases (“Cloning Dolly the Sheep”). Other reasons for animal cloning include animals that produce higher-quality meat or milk, to use as breeders, and making potential drugs or vaccines (“Why Clone?”). The picture brings up an interesting consideration about improving the food safety and quality of our meat (


The above reasons don’t necessarily apply to human cloning, but are interesting nonetheless. It does not seem that animal cloning is a popular or common occurrences, however this viewpoint may change. Kass and Elliott both provide examples of other reproductive technologies that were originally seen as inappropriate that have become acceptable today. From this evidence, one could propose that cloning will become mainstream in the future.

Both authors bring up the moral issue of eugenics. Elliott mentions that cloning could allow for “many more opportunities for ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ selection” (Holland 151).  Kass mentions an article in The Washington Post where the author states, “cloning could help us overcome the unpredictable variety that still rules human reproduction, and allow us to benefit from perpetuating superior genetic endowments” (Holland 131). The evidence that Kass provides focuses on the possibility of forming a homogeneous super species, one that has all the best genetic qualities. There would be great benefit in having predictability in reproduction, something that could be positive or negative. Elliott’s evidence suggests that there are positive and negative sides to cloning an individual with desired characteristics. I agree with Kass’ statement in the fact that it would be great to have the healthiest and most robust genotype to survive, but how would we keep evolving as humans? Darwin’s experiments with finches would not have worked unless there were a variety of phenotypes to utilize. Darwin was able to notice which birds survive which conditions and how they adapted to their environment. Hypothetically speaking if we had an entire population of clones (neither pieces of evidence state this, but Kass’ support seems like it could support mass cloning) how would we as humans evolve and adapt to new surroundings? Just because a specific genotype is beneficial at this current time does not mean that it will be the best genotype twenty years later. “Evolution by natural selection benefits considerably from individual genetic diversity” therefore we will never know the best genotype because it will keep changing based on our environment (Holland 159). My conclusion may be a bit dramatic because it is based on the presence of an entire population of clones, but I believe it is still something that should be addressed. Cloning would reduce the amount of genetic variation within the species, which could have positive or negative effects down the line.


“Cloning Dolly the Sheep.” AnimalResearch.Info. 1996. Web. 27 January 2014.

“Why Clone?” Learn.Genetics. University of Utah Health Sciences. Web. 27 January 2014.

Twinning versus Cloning

Clones twins           Elliott raises important moral questions about “Uniqueness, Individuality, and Human Cloning,” as the chapter is titled. He argues that it is not a matter of importance that a clone would be genetically identical to his host, because we do not question the morality of genetically identical twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. However, I think it is important to distinguish the differences and similarities between identical twins and clones. Although we are unable to interview clones to ask of their opinion and personal experience, we can have a general idea of the general thoughts and emotions from genetically identical people. This serves to enrich the argument of the morality of cloning a human.


Differences and Similarities

Although monozygotic twins and clones might seem the same, there are a few important differences to note (from article 1 “Twins: A Cloning Experience” by Barbara Prainsack):

  1. Identical twins are a matter of chance, while cloning is the result of a conscious decision.
  2. The number of embryos that actually reach the end of the term limits the number of identical twins. Cloning theoretically produces an unlimited number of clones.
  3. Identical twins have two biological parents, while a clone has just one genetic host. Therefore clones may have one gestational mother and one or more social parents.

Main Idea: Nancy Segal, a twin researcher addresses that clones “fail to fulfill the three twinship criteria: simultaneous conception, shared prenatal environments, and common birth”. Cloning could one day be an accepted practice because twins provide evidence for the nature vs. nurture theory and individuality despite genetic sameness.

Perspectives from Identical Twins

The 17 interviewees understood the difference between being the same person being the same body, and that, for example, cloning a deceased loved one would not result in the same person. “None of the MZ twin respondents reported any problems with the development of individual identities” and uniqueness was not an issue between identical twins. They all felt like individuals, and one interviewee even said that she and her sister do not think they look alike at all! Twins share a very unusual, special bond that is powerful and positive- the twins feel unique in this way.

The twins complained about preconceived notions from outsiders. Sometimes people group them together as one individual, or treat them as though they are two parts of one whole, which annoys twins. Interestingly enough, identical twins would not like to be fraternal twins, and fraternal twins would not like to be identical twins. This probably explains the fear of the unknown rather than the fear of the unnatural, a common argument against cloning. The respondents were against the idea of deliberately creating twins because this entails “ulterior motives” and there would be a persistent “fear of not being ‘good enough’ for the people who had created them”.

What does this mean for further discussion?

In general, identically twins felt positively about their lives, but they reacted negatively to the idea of deliberately cloning. This could be due to a fear of the unknown, because twins felt that genetic sameness is not an actual issue since they develop so differently as individuals. The experiences related to us by the twins could actually help to shift the cloning debate away from violation of uniqueness or individuality and toward  more relevant issues like safety and other consequences of cloning, like physical defects or affected organ growth (4).







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