Cross-Cultural Issues in Bioethics: The Example of Human Cloning

By Heiner Roetz | Go to book overview

Human Cloning: Thai Buddhist Perspectives

Pinit Ratanakul

Abstract: For Thai Buddhists human cloning is not against nature, though
it is not the natural way of human birth. Nor does human cloning come
into conflict with the Buddhist concept of individual kammic life-force and
the insistence on impermanence. With advances in science and reproduc-
tive technology moving so fast and the empowerment this technology will
give to humankind, it is only a matter of time before human cloning hap-
pens. Accordingly, we will have to expand our moral horizon and our idea
of human birth and human existence to cope with such a possibility. The
ethics of cloning should be focused on the safety of humankind and the
minimization of the harm to the clones both physical and psychological.

Key Words: Nature, Individual karmic life-force, Impermanence, Empow-
erment, Moral horizon, Safety, Minimization.


1. Introduction

Theravāda Buddhism, also known as Hînayâna or Southern Buddhism, has been a prevailing cultural force in Thailand since the establishment of the first Thai kingdom in the 13th century. Even though Thailand has committed herself to religious pluralism and even though the present constitution does not make it compulsory for every Thai to be a Buddhist, 98% of the population is Buddhist. Secularisation, which is taking place in many Southeast Asian countries, is not a dominant force in present day Thai society particularly in the rural areas where most of the population is. Similarly, despite some impacts of globalisation on the lives of Thai people, Buddhism still continues to be the basis for the value system of the majority of the people. Together with the institution of kingship, it forms the core of civic Thai culture. Thai culture cannot be appreciated without having an understanding of Buddhist teachings which mould the Thai world-view and perception.


2. Thai Cultural Orientation

The basic teachings of Buddhism which provide the foundation for Thai cultural orientation may be summarised as follows:

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