From Library Journal
With human cloning such a hot topic, there is considerable need for clear explanations of the unresolved and complex science and social and ethical issues. Bioethicist Pence (philosophy, Univ. of Alabama) tackles the subject head on, arguing for human cloning as a reproductive option. Pence's strengths include his take on the much-hyped issue of genetic (over)determinism, useful analogies to in-vitro fertilization, and coherent reasons for preferring regulation over legislative bans. Unfortunately, the flippant and dismissive tone detracts from his arguments and trivializes difficult issues. The focus on babymaking obscures the opportunity to gain insight into basic human physiology and to advance some of the most promising and jeopardized fetal cell research for applications such as cell-based therapies, gene therapy, and organ and tissue transplantation, all now prohibited from federal funding and essentially unregulated in the private sector. Not an essential purchase, but a timely reminder to examine and update library resources on cloning; librarians could perhaps start with Cloning Human Beings (National Bioethics Advisory Board, June 1997 ) and update with journal articles and books.?Mary Chitty, Cambridge Healthtech, Newton, Mass.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Occasionally, a new book evokes a sigh of relief. Pence, a medical ethicist and professor of philosophy, wants to know how a consensus on human cloning can be said to have been reached when only one side of the argument about it has appeared. That one side is the one represented by such ethicists as Kass, Caplan, and Meilaender and the recent report of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, all of which have thrown up their hands in horror at the mere thought of human cloning. Pence points out that many of the arguments against human cloning were used earlier against in vitro fertilization. The horrified ethicists are, Pence emphasizes, genetic fatalists who cannot entertain new ideas and scientific progress, and science fiction and misunderstandings of what cloning does have helped overwhelm logical discussion. And why, he asks, have women--presumably an interested group--been left out of the argument? The regulation of human asexual reproduction, he proposes, should be similar to the regulation of gene therapy. William Beatty