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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.77 n.2 Pretoria  2012




Human reproductive cloning and biotechnology: Rational, ethical and public concerns


Menslike voortplantingskloning en biotegnologie: Rasionele, etiese en publieke besorgdhede



M.E.S. (Elbie) van den Berg

Department of Philosophy, Practical & Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa





Previous research indicates a lack of clear international guidelines on the permissibility of embryonic stem cell research and human reproductive cloning. These studies suggest that this is the result of severe criticism from uninformed publics, whose arguments are based on misconceptions influenced by popular literature and science fiction films. However, the current research argues that public cloning attitudes that are based on real social and ethical concerns should be deployed to direct social and legal policy-making on human reproductive cloning. Addressing public concerns about human reproductive cloning is essential in exploring sound avenues for sensible biotechnology and policy-making. The research, on which this article reported, intended to give a critical evaluation of some major arguments for and against human reproductive cloning in order to establish whether or not these arguments hold up well under rational interrogation. Notwithstanding the author's critical attitude to uninformed opinions, false assumptions and unsound conclusions about the complex issue of human reproductive cloning, the author argued from the perspective that every life phenomenon is inextricably intertwined with everything else, and part of larger complex webs of interactions. Such a perspective recognised that the well-being of other human beings, including future human clones, is not only an existential, social and moral imperative but also epistemological. Against the backdrop of this perspective, critical questions arose that justified the creation of human clones in the face of possible defects and abnormalities in cloned children, as well as the possible harm to societies.


Vroeëre navorsing oor kloning wys op 'n afwesigheid van duidelike internasionale riglyne oor die aanvaarbaarheid van embrioniese stamsel-navorsing en menslike voortplantingskloning. Hierdie studies wys daarop dat dit te wyte is aan erge kritiek van die oningeligte publiek, wie se argumente gebaseer is op wanopvattings wat beïnvloed word deur populêre literatuur en wetenskapsfiksie-films. In hierdie artikel word daar egter aangevoer dat die publiek se houding, indien dit in werklike sosiale en etiese oorwegings gefundeer is, in ag geneem moet word om rigting te gee aan sosiale en wetlike besluitneming oor menslike voortplantingskloning. Die inagneming van openbare kommer oor menslike voortplantingskloning is essensieel in die soeke na rasionele en wyse beleidsbepaling en biotegnologiese oorwegings. Die navorsing waaroor hierdie artikel verslag lewer, poog om 'n kritiese evaluering van sommige dominante argumente vir en teen menslike voortplantingskloning te gee in die lig van rasionele oorweging. Nieteenstaande die outeur se kritiese benadering tot oninligte opinies, vals aannames en ongegronde gevolgtrekkings oor die komplekse kwessie van menslike voortplantingskloning, argumenteer die outeur vanuit die perspektief dat elke lewensverskynsel onontkombaar verbonde is en deel vorm van 'n groter komplekse netwerk van interaksies. Hierdie perspektief erken dat die welsyn van ander mense, insluitende toekomstige menslike klone, nie slegs 'n eksistensiële, sosiale en etiese kwessie is nie, maar ook 'n epistemologiese imperatief. Teen die agtergrond van hierdie perspektief, opper die outeur kritiese vrae oor die regverdiging van die skepping van toekomstige menslike klone te midde van die moontlikheid van defekte en abnormaliteite in gekloonde kinders, asook moontlike sosiale skade.



Full text available only in PDF format.



Competing interests

The author declares that she has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced her in writing this article.



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Elbie van den Berg
PO Box 392
Pretoria 0003
South Africa

Received: 02 Mar. 2012
Accepted: 03 Sept. 2012
Published: 14 Dec. 2012

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