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A moral quiz for the anti-cloners - Page 2

post #41 of 48
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by poor taylor:
<strong>
What a jackass.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Your all over the place with this post so let me see if I can pick out anything worthy of addressing.
[quote]<strong>
"First do no harm." People die. This is something that you really have to accept - not just gloss over, before you understand why some can't justify cloning. People die. It's as natural a part of life as eating, yet it's sometimes regarded as something we should prevent. Certainly, I'd like to live a long life. But I'd never want another life to be ended or jeapordized (especially without consent) just to prolong my own. That's what my objection boils down to: I could never justify the destruction of a human for my personal gain. </strong><hr></blockquote>

It's amazing how many people employ this "circle of life" mantra without bothering to address exactly how they know when it's proper for people to just accept death. Why is it, for instance, any more moral for someone to have an $150K heart transplant late in life which could otherwise go to saving hundreds from starvation in some third world country than it is to use a microscopic cell? What about someone in their 50's, 40's, 30's? Who the hell are you to judge when someone "should" accept death. And along those lines, who are you to decide that a single cell is worth more than a living, thinking human being?

Wait a minute, that was the whole purpose of the quiz! Answer the questions, justify your answers, and try using more convincing arguments than "What a jackass." Imagine yourself as the doctor explaining to a father why a life saving cloning technique can't be employed to save his daughter, picture yourself using the "circle of life" reasoning and then geuss who's the jackass in that scenario.

[ 12-02-2001: Message edited by: Nordstrodamus ]</p>

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"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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post #42 of 48
Ok, at the behest of Nordstradamus I have dug up this fine thread so as to prevent it from becoming buried forever. Can't have that, this being such a timely topic and all.


In reading over a few of the arguments / responses again and thinking things over I think I can sum up the impasse we seem to be reaching this way:

What it boils down to is that while there is no easy way to answer the question of "when should one accept death as inevitable (or natural)?" There is also no easy way to answer the question: "when will we have gone too far in tampering with the design / purpose of the human body, in an attempt to find cures for existing conditions and ailments, that might be cured in less invasive ways in the future (perhaps even the near future)?"

Kind of a wordy description for the dilemma, but you get the picture. Nordy, I think the problem that people like myself have (those who object, but not because their pastor told them to) is that messing with the human reproductive system -- as an example -- in order to speed up medical advancements (and let's face it, make huge money for the pharmacuetical companies) just runs counter to human intuition.

Honestly, I'm not the kind of person who bases his rationales or arguments in religious texts or mantras. What I know is that in my gut, something tells me that creating the potential for a human being (embryo), and then wiping it out to produce mere parts of a human being...it just doesn't sit right with me. It seems as unnatural as trying to wipe your ass with a rock instead of a leaf, if you'll pardon my crude analogy.

I hate to use the term "playing God" because it then spills into all the mantras I'm trying to avoid here. I guess my belief is that whether there is a God or not, and whether this technology could one day be made to work or not, there is a certain order to things...to life itself. Whether you are a human being, a lizzard, a virus or even an ocean or a star in a distant galaxy....there is an order to the way in which life manifests itself. This technology (to my way of thinking) flies in the face of that order.

Now, I'll spare you some calories because obviously my next logical challenge is to define that order in a specific way, and further to illustrate how things like antibiotics (which I acknowledge have no direct correlation to the human species) can be said to "fit" within that order. And there are a zillion other things we do that don't logically fit into the normal cycle of life or human health....caffeine, nutrasweet, amino-fuel, you name it....all of it is superfluous to our biological need and all of it was designed to rake in the bucks.

So where do we draw the lines? I don't know. I don't fully understand how they work, but I so far am less opposed to those processes that do *not* create a human embryo, but somehow still can create the tissues needed. Either way, I can certainly envision some of the things you're talking about as being "miracles" in the eyes of the would-be family members...if we could we'd keep our loved ones alive indefinitely, wouldn't we? Or maybe not?

I can certainly admit if there had been something like this available to my brother (hyothetically) before he died of a seizure, which was brought on by a nuerological disorder, I would've considered it. How could a loved one NOT at least consider it? Even so, under the scenarios where human embryos are created, I'm not sure I could give the OK in good conscience.

As I said earlier, it just seems to fly in the face of that natural order of things I spoke of earlier.

Now who knows, maybe I'm being a luddite and I don't even know it (I still think that Segway thing is a gimmick!)...maybe without people like me in your way, 1,000 years from now the human race will look more like one of the Aliens from AI (since you mentioned it), and will be able to perform remarkable feats of telekinnetic healing and such...but I doubt it. Instead, I think we need to keep our noses to the grindstone and find other ways to cure these ills.

And I tend to agree with the other fellow in the sense that none of us is guaranteed anything. Humans, like all other species, are susceptible to serious illness and injury - at any age. To kid ourselves into thinking it's OK to do whatever we like with the human anatomy, because maybe we can save a few more people...I don't know. It's one thing to make drugs from chemicals and mold cultures...quite another to make them from something like an embryo. Either way, it seems some scientists and doctors kid themselves into believing they have all the right answers and perspectives...in the grand scheme of things, we still know next to nothing about the way life evolves and operates (in any species).

So, keep on trying to convince me. Just don't break that order of things. ; )

[ 12-11-2001: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #43 of 48
<strong>Originally posted by Moogs ™:
Nordy, I think the problem that people like myself have ... is that messing with the human reproductive system ... runs counter to human intuition.</strong>

Intuition is just the sum total of one's experiences applied to a problem on a subconscious level. It does not come from a reservoir of all that is good and right in the universe. It's easier to say we shouldn't be messing with things we have no clear and predictable understanding of scientifically nor morally.

<strong>Honestly, I'm not the kind of person who bases his rationales or arguments in religious texts or mantras.</strong>

You'll be surprised how much one is influenced by religious texts, or more generally, philosophical texts. It's all that we have to build a common foundation of beliefs and behavior on.

<strong>What I know is that in my gut, something tells me that creating the potential for a human being (embryo), and then wiping it out to produce mere parts of a human being...it just doesn't sit right with me. It seems as unnatural as trying to wipe your ass with a rock instead of a leaf, if you'll pardon my crude analogy.</strong>

All that humanity does, every little and big thing that has been done before, now and in the future, is natural. It is only a conceit of our sentience that we think we are somehow outside of nature. In other words, if it happens, it's natural, be it repugnant or not.

There are certain behaviors in which we are genetically inclined to do and to not do, like incest or cannibalism, that will fall under what we think as unnatural, but that is just a - how should I say it - an artifact of our evolutionary and cultural makeup. There are and have been societies where ritual cannabalism and incest occurred. There are and have been societies where not only were fetuses killed, but newborns and kids regularly exposed (to die) or ritually killed. This isn't unnatural, it's nature. A matter of definitions, yes, but the point needs to be made that there is nothing special that sets humanity outside of nature. Everything it does is natural.

Perhaps nature's only way of saying something is right or not is the survival of the species. A very unsentimental way of choosing at that. Ie, there is nothing in nature that has sentimental attributes, it merely just exists.

<strong>I guess my belief is that whether there is a God or not, and whether this technology could one day be made to work or not, there is a certain order to things...to life itself. ... This technology (to my way of thinking) flies in the face of that order.</strong>

You're applying a rigid order to something that doesn't follow any order outside of the basic axioms of physics, chemistry and whatnot. There is no basic intrinsic rightness to nature above those axioms, but here you are saying that only certain things can be done a certain way in nature. A very human and sentimental thing to do. So, it may not be a religious text you are basing your opinion on, but it is at least a philosophical one.

In the governance of our lives we all make tradeoffs that usually boil down to "what are the consequences of doing something?" How we answer the question is based on one's experiences and philosophy, not a set order of things (since it really doesn't exist).

<strong>Even so, under the scenarios where human embryos are created, I'm not sure I could give the OK in good conscience.</strong>

One should only do something in good conscience. The playing field is socio-political, not our conscience.

<strong>Either way, it seems some scientists and doctors kid themselves into believing they have all the right answers and perspectives...in the grand scheme of things, we still know next to nothing about the way life evolves and operates (in any species).</strong>

This is a bit libelous. I'm quite sure that those scientists and doctors know that they don't have all the right answers and perspectives. What's driving them to do these things is something else.

<strong>Just don't break that order of things. </strong>

I gave it a shot.
post #44 of 48
You make some valid points. I guess it is true tos some extent that what is "seen as natural" has much to do with one's personal experience. Either way though, I don't at all buy the notion that everything we do is natural by definition, because we are part of nature. Entire societies and cultures are based on artificial facades which we have built up around us to make life more comfortable.

Just because our species is a part / product of nature, it doesn't necessarily follow that everything we choose to invent or do is also natural. Not IMO anyway.
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post #45 of 48
<strong>Originally posted by Moogs ™:
Either way though, I don't at all buy the notion that everything we do is natural by definition, because we are part of nature. Entire societies and cultures are based on artificial facades which we have built up around us to make life more comfortable.</strong>

That's our nature. It's nothing unusual and that's why it is a conceit to believe otherwise. We cannot believe that nature is somehow separate from us, and that it has some sort of predetermined order. That's why you are trying to make your anti-cloning argument afterall, that it has a certain way to do things.

Problem is that nature has no problem with cloning. Obviously lots of micro-organisms use cloning, but there are even a few higher order animals (snakes and skinks) that clone themselves

<strong>Just because our species is a part / product of nature, it doesn't necessarily follow that everything we choose to invent or do is also natural. Not IMO anyway.</strong>

The problem is that you are applying a moral authority to nature that doesn't exist. Nature is amoral and there are not any set or rightful ways to do anything. Only action and consequences of those actions exist.

Morality and ethics are deterministic concepts created by humanity. There is a bit of convergence between moral concepts and altruism in nature, but nature doesn't care about it. Only we do. In defending or promoting a course of action we can only rely on the popularity of our opinion. Hence, it is a socio-political argument.
post #46 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quite a lengthy post, Moogs. I've tried to condense your main points together in the qoutes below to prevent post-bloat...

[quote]Originally posted by Moogs :
<strong>What it boils down to is that while there is no easy way to answer the question of "when should one accept death as inevitable (or natural)?" </strong><hr></blockquote>

Not just no easy way, there is quite simply no way to answer this question. The question is both ethical and philosophical. On the ethics- when does someone have the right to deny life to another? My answer - when it robs life from another. To wit anti-cloners invoke the "embryos are people too" theological argument. I provided several "outs" in the original quiz which obviated the need for human embryos to render such arguments moot (as if they weren't already in our system of government). On to the philosophical- what is natural? Don't most animals fight against death to the very last? Isn't the pursuit of life natural? No doubt, you will respond that mankind is responsible to higher moral codes than the simple carnality of nature. At this point you must recognize how subjective this line of reasoning becomes.

[quote]<strong>
There is also no easy way to answer the question: "when will we have gone too far in tampering with the design / purpose of the human body, in an attempt to find cures for existing conditions and ailments. </strong><hr></blockquote>

This question suffers from the same philosophical flaw as the above question. What is the design/purpose of the human body? You didn't respond to my question about whether genetically engineering blood cells into nerve cells would violate this "purpose" litmus test. From the rest of your post, however, I infer that this route would most likely fall into the category you describe as "those processes that do *not* create a human embryo, but somehow still can create the tissues needed." Leaving you, again, with the burden of defining "purpose" which is now restated as the "order of things"...
[quote]<strong>
Honestly, I'm not the kind of person who bases his rationales or arguments in religious texts or mantras. What I know is that in my gut...I guess my belief is that ... there is a certain order to things...to life itself...there is an order to the way in which life manifests itself. This technology (to my way of thinking) flies in the face of that order.
...So where do we draw the lines? I don't know. </strong><hr></blockquote>

By now you can imagine how unsettled I am by someone (anyone) thinking that they can know the correct design, purpose, or "order of things" (through theology, philosophy, or just gut feelings) with enough infalibility to make it illegal for me to use a single cell to save my daughter's life. But then I remembered that I hadn't really put this exact question to you. Given all your uncertainty about the true "order of things" and whether you would use the technology yourself, do you feel you have enough moral authority to make it illegal for others to use the technology?
[quote]<strong>
Either way, it seems some scientists and doctors kid themselves into believing they have all the right answers and perspectives...in the grand scheme of things, we still know next to nothing about the way life evolves and operates (in any species).</strong><hr></blockquote>

This is a very pervasive distortion of the mind-set of scientists. With the exception of those scientists that the media promotes for the very reason that they are out of the norm, unethical, know-it-alls most scientists are of the most humble mentalities. I've attended seminars where I've heard Nobel laureates happily admit how stupid they were for misunderstanding the presented material. In science all knowledge is considered tentative, but some theories have survived so much testing that to deny them without evidence is silly. And just because we don't know everything, we do know enough about some things to make informed decisions. We know enough about cloning and stem cells to know that for many conditions they are the best path to follow.

[quote]<strong>
So, keep on trying to convince me. Just don't break that order of things. ; )</strong><hr></blockquote>

Although I find no objective foundation from which to infer an "order of things" I will give you something to munch on... Consider that your life and all life you see (i.e. all that is visible to the human eye) is due to the very thing you object to- changing the "purpose" of a germ cell. At one point more than 600 million years ago a mutation in a single cell "animal" caused it to divide unevenly, relegating one of it's daughter cells to the status of "mere tissue" as you put it. From these humble beginnings all multicellular life evolved. So if man is part of nature then maybe changing the purpose of the germ cell is just as natural now as it was then. If we are above nature then maybe we aren't obligated to follow it's "design."

--
"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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--
"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

Reply
post #47 of 48
I just love grey-matter debates, don't you?

Before I go any further and confuse things more (with more terms and ideas that are hard to define), I think I need to read up on a couple books I have that I haven't looked at in a while. I have little fragments and shadows of ideas floating around my had that all add up to me feeling the way i do. I just need to think about it and put it together in a more coherent way.

To answer your question, no, I don't have the legal authority to force anyone to do anything. I'm not a judge or the dean of a university medical school. But just because I haven't found a way to properly explain myself, doesn't mean my ulitimate conclusion is without merit. In other words, just because I've not yet been able to describe this universal or natural order to things, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

The flaw lies with my inability to explain myself and my, rather than with the ideas I'm using as a defense for my position on cloning.

*inhale, exhale*

Let me think it over for a couple days and I'll see if I can't do a better job of explaining myself. Instincts are hard to quantify, as I'm sure you're aware.

[ 12-13-2001: Message edited by: Moogs ]</p>
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post #48 of 48
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by Moogs :
<strong>I just love grey-matter debates, don't you? </strong><hr></blockquote>

They're a little more deserving than my "Penisbreath" thread, I'll admit, but probably not as much fun.

[quote]<strong>
To answer your question, no, I don't have the legal authority to force anyone to do anything. I'm not a judge or the dean of a university medical school. </strong><hr></blockquote>

Just to clarify- when I asked if you felt you had the moral authority to make therapuetic cloning illegal I did not mean to ask if you had the legal authority (i.e. if you are actually a congressman). Instead I was wondering whether you, as a citizen, would vote for or support your representative on legislation making it illegal. I have to ask this, because most people nowadays seem to think our democracy is about mob rule where any opinion can be enforced so long as it is in the majority. Blame it on my public school education, but I was raised with the belief that I can't deny anyone their rights because of my subjective beliefs, but must deal with them in rational, objective terms. I think beans are disgusting, for instance, but I wouldn't make them illegal even if the majority agreed with me. Whether this is indeed the principle our constitution lays out is a whole seperate debate, but I'll stick by my interpretation.

[quote]<strong>
Let me think it over for a couple days and I'll see if I can't do a better job of explaining myself. Instincts are hard to quantify, as I'm sure you're aware.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Take your time. I don't think any representatives are holding up legislation to see how this thread turns out.

--
"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

Reply

--
"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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