Re: "Cloning Breakthrough" not one

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Tue Nov 27 2001 - 11:18:22 MST

> On Tue, Nov 27, 2001 at 03:17:33PM +1100, Damien Broderick wrote:
> > At 10:27 PM 11/26/01 +0100, Anders wrote:
> >
> > > - The Kantian ethical idea that humans must be ends in
> > >themselves, and not tools for other ends is sometimes invoked by
> > >suggesting that clones are created for other reasons than simply being
> > >themselves.
> >
> > Wrong! As my pal Russell Blackford regularly points out, Kant arguedthat
> > humans must not be used *only* as tools for other ends. Obviously,
> > all human activities, moral and immoral alike, involve other people as
> > means; the immorality only emerges, for Kant, when this is the *sole*
> >
> > This places severe bounds on using Kant to attack human cloning *per
> It seems that this misinterpretation of Kant is very widespread, and
> even when people do not hold it they might argue that any more use of
> humans as means moves us in a bad direction. But that argument only
> holds if there are no ameliorating effects of the practice; if we treat
> humans a slight bit more like resources for stem cells that increase in
> mean-ness is offset by the health benefits, which enable more people to
> live full lives and use their energy in positive direction.
This version of the categorical imperative may not be used to attack human
cloning per se but it can be used to argue against this technology _if_ we
grant that the "stuff" from which we hope to harvest the stem cells should
be treated as a distinct person. If we kill off the stuff after we have
harvested the stem cells then clearly we are treating it as a means and not
as an end in itself. If we accept the Kantian imperative and that it is
right to harvest stem cells from this stuff, then the stuff cannot be a
person. For Kant this is a categorical imperative which means that all the
talk in the world about health benefits will not override our duty not to
treat people as mere means. This sort of consequentialist thinking is what
Kant wanted to avoid. (Perhaps I misunderstand Anders here. Does the
sentence which starts "It seems that this....: mean that they do not hold
this misinterpretation of Kant or that they do not hold to Kant's
deontological position?)

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