Re: Amusing anti-cloning arguments

Hal Finney (
Tue, 27 Oct 1998 21:28:01 -0800

Max More, <>, writes:
> Coercion *was* a part of Pizulli's scenario. Sorry if I didn't take the
> time to set the whole thing out. Of course without the coercion, cloning
> legless people for space would be a really dumb thing to do.

This is not so clear to me.

> If those
> individuals didn't want to follow your plan for their lives, they might be
> very pissed that you made them legless when this limits them in a gravity
> field. "Oops! Sorry, Sally. It never occurred to us that you might want to
> live on Earth or in an artificial gravity experiment. Look, we bought you
> some shiny new crutches!"

Under what circumstances is it legitimate to alter the genome and create a genetically altered person who is better adapted to some environments but worse for others? In space, the legless person, or someone with hands instead of feet, may have an advantage. But you can't ask in advance.

The question is related to the issue of whether it is right to bring children into the world in other circumstances where their choices may be limited.

Historically, people have had the right to raise their offspring into virtually any circumstances. They travel to dangerous new continents and raise children in hard conditions. Nobody asks the kids if they mind; it's impossible to do so until after their born, and then it's too late.

Suppose a ship is being launched to the stars, at relatively slow speeds, which will take centuries to make the journey. Even with longevity and hibernation, it is likely that children will be born, just as have been born on other migrations. This is part of the historical pattern of life, and doesn't seem to raise new ethical problems.

Bringing kids into such an environment dooms them to life in space as certainly as biologically adapting them would. If we accept the historical precedent for parents to have children in environments which limit their choices, shouldn't we accept that modifying them is equally permissible?