this question revolves around the morality of the proposition, not its practicality. it is known that the current level of scientific expertise results in many cases of cloning which are defective or unsuccessful. for the purposes of this enquiry, however, we should assume that the techniques of cloning are not in doubt. we are, therefore, looking forward to possible future-perhaps imminent- moral dilemmas which will face religions, humanists, the medical profession, politicians and of course the individual, once the appropriate techniques have been perfected.
now we must further distinguish between two types of cloning: therapeutic and reproductive. the former is predicated on healing disease and prolonging life. the latter is designed to create new life.
naturally there are longstanding prejudices against certain types of knowledge. superstition still plays a role, even in modern human affairs. for example vaccination against smallpox was introduced in russia during the period of catherine the great. it seemed incredible at the time that this technique might protect rather than infect, so the empress was one of the first to take the treatment herself. inspired by her example the court followed and the path to smallpox eradication had begun.
it seems , therefore, that the objections to therapeutic cloning probably fall into the category of outmoded superstition. it should , accordingly, be a simple step to concur with the propositions that life is precious and needs protection,particularly if this promotes the greatest happiness. if therapeutic cloning fulfills the above functions it must clearly be regarded as a useful and sophisticated weapon in humanity's arsenal for the battle against disease.
finally we move on to reproductive cloning.specifically we are referring to the reproductive cloning of humans.why should this be necessary? from a demographic point of view the planet is not notably short of human beings. why, therefore, shoud we wish to create more beyond those being conceived by natural purposes? furthermore, one could object that human life has a divine source, and that to usurp the divine function with a frankenstein-like act of substitute creation would be to offend against both moral and religious precepts.when man plays at being God, as with the unleashing of the terrible power of the atom bomb, unpredictable, uncontrollable and awesome forces may be unloosed upon the world.
one might also object that any human produced by cloning might prove to be a class apart, either through built -in superior intelligence and physique, or by expendability engendered through the sheer capacity to create infinite copies. in the first case we run the risk of a superclass of human taking control of our affairs, in the latter of producing human cannon fodder for unpleasnt tasks such as wars and fire fighting, or hazardous journeys such as deep sea exploration or space travel.
on the other hand, human reproductive cloning might be confined to the relatively benign activity of the fertilisation clinic, to improve the quality of life of otherwise barren or childless couples.
one thing is certain-science is like a genie escaped from its confining bottle. once out, it can never be forced back in and the bottle stopped. one cannot reverse scientific discovery. whatever the moral and rleigious rights or wrongs of the case, once cloning becomes standardly possible. it will never go away.