Final Blog Post

It is common to think that emotions interfere with rational thinking. In the ‘Chariot Allegory’, Plato describes emotion and reason as two winged horses that are pulling a chariot. One of the horses represents rational, moral impulse or the positive part of nature; while the other horse represents irrational passions or lustful nature.  The activities of one system are automatic and often emotional, whereas the activities of the other are controlled and never emotional. The automatic system gets things done quickly, but it is prone to error. The controlled system’s mission is to keep a watchful eye and to make corrections when necessary. In everyday life decisions, this duality often arises as the individual train of thought may be influenced by any of those at a given point. For example, whether to go eat dessert instead of doing physical activity; often selection to eat sweets comes from the emotional thinking and the desire for quick satisfaction. On the other hand, often the decision to engage in physical activity comes along with the logical reasoning that it is, in the long run, the choice that will bring the most benefits. In a similar fashion, the public’s opinion on alternative new reproductive technologies is based on the same dichotomy of how each method might affect -emotionally and logically- the population. While most of the rash decision-making emotions are usually excluded from legally binding actions; emotions and feelings remain involved due to fictive kinship that people develop over experiences -or lack of- through each of their lifetimes, hence, any reproduction alternatives should be considered on a case by case basis. When a society is faced with a new technology, the instinct is to -at first -reject it. But as time goes on it becomes more acceptable because its implications are more and more understood by the population.

A 2010 Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life study of more than 230 countries and territories found out that “Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group” and that “There are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84 percent of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion,”. With the same analysis projecting that these numbers will increase as the population rises to 9.3 billion by the middle of the century. It is safe to say that religious involvement is most times included in these experiences. Contrary to alternative reproductive methods like In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or surrogacy, which have been taken into the mainstream due to the longevity of their existence, cloning is the new method of reproduction that has not been involved as mainstream yet. Many have understandable reservations and hesitancies given certain circumstances under which the being is conceived and the means to ‘achieve’ life. However, I believe these are due to lack of understanding of what it entails. The restrictions range in origin but they mostly fall under the same “ethical” and/or “religious” classification. In terms of ethics, there is debate over the right of the parent to decide how the child is going to look like and the limitations on the use of the technology to avoid exploitation of its capacities. But as IVF and Surrogacy have made their way into the mainstream, so it should cloning be allowed to develop and become part of society.

Regardless of unethical considerations of the artificial reproduction of humans, there is a debate on whether it is feasible to clone livestock to fight issues like hunger, prevent pollution, and avoid the suffering of animals. On March 22nd of this year, the New York Post published an article discussing the word of Rabbi Yuval Cherlow – a prominent Orthodox in Israel – following Rabbi Menachem Genack, who is the head of New York’s Orthodox Union’s kosher division. Rabbi Cherlow said that “cloned meat produced from a pig shall not be defined as prohibited for consumption – including with milk”. He argued that when the cell of a pig is used, and its genetics are used in the production of food, the cell loses its “original identity” and therefore cannot be defined as “forbidden for consumption”. Jewish Law or Halakha has very clear rules on dietary restrictions, including what should or should not be eaten by the Jewish people. When the genetic material is used to generate the meat of a specific animal it is no longer that animal from which it came from. Likewise, as Broyde explains, the Halakha views cloning as less than the ideal way to reproduce people, but when there is no other method available then it accepts having children through cloning – it even considers it a mitzvah (commandment/good deed). He recognizes that while cloning science will proceed, some caution must be put in place of uncertainty. The natural tendency to prohibit the unknown is itself morally commendable virtue unless the activity is prohibited because of its consequences not being understood. In this case, the prohibition of what is not understood is under Jewish tradition regrettable. Jewish tradition commands those capable of discussing and resolving such matters to do so. The analysis is submitted to allow others to comment and critique it, and Jewish law will develop an established policy concerning various topics, in this case, cloning.

Even though Jewish Law seems to be tolerant towards cloning as an alternative reproductive system; the Catholic church does not seem to share the same perspective. In the Donum Vitae it is stated that “attempts or hypotheses for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through “twin fission”, cloning or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union”. The focus is on the consummation of marriage before conceiving a baby and it only accepts procreation what is considered traditional by the church’s standard. Due to differences within each faith, I cannot consider all religions to be isomorphic. Even amongst Catholic Sects. Protestants had to develop unique moral and theological positions. One way is to turn from the authority of the church as the interpreter of the biblical texts themselves. When, however, our subject is the new reproductive technologies we might guess in advance that this tried-and-true Protestant approach might have limited applicability; for, we are not likely to find a much direct explanation on the subject in the Old and New Testaments. Even though the texts do not give explicit guidance on these alternatives, there are examples that depict the procedures like surrogacy through the story of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar. Gilbert Meilander argues that this archetype places values procreation highly through the context of the establishment of a stable bond mother and father; nonetheless, the first and greatest command is not to have a family but to love God. He argues that Janet Dickey McDowell’s essay is an example of how one may plea to a vast array of biblical stories to find direction. However, the use of biblical references in different ways, in fact, Paul Simmons finds a symbolic value in accord with certain biblical values explains – when touching upon ‘Biotechnical Parenting –  that “These are parents by design, intention, and purpose. They will recognize their child as the extraordinary gift it truly is. They will not resent the pregnancy as an untimely accident or reject the child as an unwelcome intruder… To such commitment, every parent is called.” When comparing both, McDowell’s and Simmons’s, readings of biblical themes we can begin to see a basic issue emerge – an issue that directs our attention to a duality in human nature.

Furthermore, when analyzing Swasti Bhattacharyya’s book on Hindu Bioethics it is seen that there is no explicit reference to a practical set of rules apart from a set of “theoretical” laws written in the Laws of Manu, however, in chapter 2 there is a summary of the Mahabharata (book for Hindu moral Law) and an extensive reference to the stories of how the three queens Kunti, Munti, and Gandhari overcame the challenges of infertility to provide for their descendants. In these stories, there is an undertone of reproductive manipulation; for example, how Kunti and Madri deal with the curse placed upon their husband to call upon the G-ds to impregnate them or how Gandhari manipulates the product of her conception to bring the births of one hundred sons and one daughter. Bhattacharya extrapolates from these stories to show how they can be used to discuss bioethical issues such as fertility medications, sperm banks, donor artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryonic transfer. Regardless of there not being a stated position on ‘Cloning’ as a viable reproductive pathway, it is safe to induce that the same acceptance is applicable to this relatively new approach to procreation.

In the end, it is hard to separate and classify under which conditions it should be allowed or prohibited to clone a living being. As with any new concept or idea, there is a socio-cultural acclimation period under which society tends to start forming thoughts and ethical standards. Despite the emotional attachment of the start of the vast discourse on the topic, logical reasoning rose upon the lack of information available to the public. Since February of 1997, when the announcement of the first successful cloning of a mammal (Dolly the Sheep), several other mammals have been successfully cloned. Despite it being a highly debated topic with enormous scientific potential, in July 2001 the House of Representatives banned human cloning. Furthermore, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and the National Academy of Science called for “further consideration of ethical and social questions raised by cloning”. The upheaval of scientific research has led to many countries to partially banning cloning and only allowing research purposed efforts. It took over 25 years for homosexuality to be removed from the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, even though it still has attached the “ego-dystonic sexual orientation”. The initial emotional distress caused by a new idea cannot overshadow the logical reasoning, often the emotional system gets things done faster, but it is susceptible to make mistakes. While the controlled system makes the accurate decisions as well as makes corrections when necessary.

Citations:

Bhattacharyya, S. (2006). Voices from Hinduism’s Past. In Magical Progeny, Modern Technology (pp. 29 – 48). SUNY Press.

Burton, N. (2015, September 18). When Homosexuality Stopped Being a Mental Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201509/when-homosexuality-stopped-being-mental-disorder

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (1987, February 22). Instruction on respect for human life. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19870222_respect-for-human-life_en.html

Krueger, J. I. (2010, June 18). Reason and emotion: A note on Plato, Darwin, and Damasio. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/one-among-many/201006/reason-and-emotion-note-plato-darwin-and-damasio

Meilander, G. (1992). New Reproductive Technologies: Protestant Modes Of Thought. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/ISIMKIN/Downloads/GilbertMeilaenderNewRepro.pdf

Modern Reproductive Technologies and Jewish Law. (n.d.). In M. J. Broyde & M. Ausubel (Eds.), Marriage, Sex, and Family in Judaism (pp. 295 – 317). Retrieved from https://reserves.library.emory.edu/Shib/ares.dllAction=10&Type=10&Value=447788

Pew Research Center. (2012, December 18). The Global Religious Landscape. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/

The President’s Council on Bioethics. (2002, July). PCBE: Human Cloning and Huma n Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry — Full Report. Retrieved from https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/reports/cloningreport/execsummary.html

Steinbuch, Y. (2018, March 22). Rabbi: Eating genetically cloned pig is kosher. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2018/03/22/rabbi-eating-genetically-cloned-pig-is-kosher/

 

One Reply to “Final Blog Post”

  1. Hi Isac,

    This is a very creative blog. I failed to fully understand the relationship between Plato and cloning that you lay out here, and I think you could do more to clarify. It would also be helpful to use specific citations with page numbers from the reading. I appreciated your willingness to try to think outside of the box.

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