26 February 2018

Ethical Debate on Human Cloning


According to professor Joshua Brickman, we have the ability to manipulate the genome. However, we don’t know what the implications of this sort of meddling will be and it may not lead to the results we wished for.

How would you feel if you found out someone had deliberately duplicated your genes and made exact copies of you?

  • Flattered= the more of me, the merrier!
  • Disturbed= My unique value hinges upon me only being one.
  • The same= My identity is not only my genes.

That was one of the questions raised to the live audience in Copenhagen before the human cloning play ‘A Number’ on Wednesday, February 21, 2018.

The vast majority responded they would be ‘disturbed’. Likewise in a poll on Twitter that ran in parallel: Most would be disturbed by someone duplicating them. But some, or actually most, of the panel of experts admitted, to laughs from the audience, that they would be ‘flattered’.

This was just one of the many surprises and insights that popped up in the debate.

Human cloning is not just ‘human cloning’, according to stem cell biologist DanStem professor Joshua Brickman. The cloning implies that we know how a modification in the genome will enhance an ability.  According to professor Brickman, the point is that we have the ability to manipulate the genome.  However, we don’t know what the implications of this sort of meddling will be and it may not lead to enhanced abilities. However, because these manipulations are both technologically more accessible and have a range of societal implications, they have the potential to have much broader impact than the advent of cloning itself

Priest and Kierkegaard expert Pia Søltoft had the audience reflect over how human cloning has actually already taken place, as people copy each others’ personalities, looks and individuality on social media.

The 19th century Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, she said, transported to our 21st century, might interpret human cloning as something that has already happened, as individuals are subsumed into a crowd.

Bioethicist Mickey Gjerris, a former member of the Danish Council of Ethics, suggested that genetic similarity may not imply that individuals will not be, or experience themselves as, unique.

About human cloning

Human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy (or clone) of a human. The term is generally used to refer to artificial human cloning, which is the reproduction of human cells and tissue. It does not refer to the natural conception and delivery of identical twins. The possibility of human cloning has raised controversies. These ethical concerns have prompted several nations to pass laws regarding human cloning and its legality (Wikipedia)

The meeting was organized and moderated by 
Mike Young, mike@mikeyoungacademy.dk