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Who's Afraid of Human Cloning? Paperback – November 5, 1998
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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
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
Top customer reviews
Such commentary by the House member is rooted in popular culture according to the author. Movies, literature, and to a large degree educational institutions have painted a picture of human cloning that has no basis in science or reality. And from my own personal confrontations with people against human cloning, his assertions are correct; most people, even highly educuated ones, have a completely distorted view about what is actually possible in today's technology.
The author refutes successfully the arguments against human cloning, but also gives positive arguments for proceeding with it. I don't think the people steadfastly against human cloning will be swayed by this book, but one must remain optimistic. At any rate, the author shows convincingly that human cloning (or nuclear somatic transfer as he likes to call it) is an option that should be pursued, although with care. After reading it, one could say that a positive decision for human cloning by the citizens of our world will not lead to a "slippery slope"....but instead to a "thoughtful ascent".
For the person who has made up their mind, that human cloning was accurately represented in the movie BLADE RUNNER (hint: it wasn't), this book will not change their mind. But this book does make the point that human cloning, like IVF, is a reproductive inevitability and that irrational people have no right to shove their superstitious, backwards, genital-fearing ways down our throats. Pence makes clear the case that human cloning is not some sort of plot to breed armies of clones (that woul require an army of genetic donors and an army of mothers willing to gestate the babies for nine months), but rather a new way of making babies that can help infertile couples and even provide a brighter genetic furture for humanity.