The Ethics of Human Cloning

Leon R. Kass, Author, James Q. Wilson, Joint Author American Enterprise Institute Press $16.95 (121p) ISBN 978-0-8447-4050-8
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. (July)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!