Cloning, Epilogue

In an insightful essay (published in an excellent anthology edited by Martha Nussbaum and Cass Sunstein, which also includes other sources cited in this series of posts) that juxtaposed doppelgänger folklore to the modern cloning debate, historian Wendy Doniger tellingly observed that ‘myths, like vampires, are undead.’ Having met a few myths about asexual reproduction in the foregoing discussion, we can note another recursive parallel: like vampires, myths hate catching sight of themselves as such. But couching public policy debate in terms defined by myths obscures important, rigorously definable utilitarian issues that face humanity as technology advances. Meanwhile, those content to hurl brimstone at the prospect of human cloning, in particular, should realize that they risk soon stigmatizing real people. As in the case of so-called illegitimate children (and there are synonyms with yet harsher connotations) for centuries, such stigma may affront individual dignity far more than may any particular means of birth. So welcome to the world, Eve — when/where/whoever you are. May you grow old in joy, well-loved, with respect for your uniqueness and privacy, and unswayed by hokum. And if so, let’s hope there will be more of us like you.