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

By Heiner Roetz | Go to book overview

Primordial Ownership versus Dispossession of the Body.
A Contribution to the Problem of Cloning from the
Perspective of Classical European Philosophy of Law

Thomas Sören Hoffmann

Abstract: Human cloning has become a matter not only of ethical preoc-
cupations, but also of discussions within the philosophy of law. This arti-
cle contains a critical examination of the three most discussed arguments
in favour of cloning humans in a more or less legal context: the right to
reproduction, the right to therapy, and the right to research. It can be
shown that there are strong reasons for prohibiting an extension of these
(subjective) rights to any kind of use of human bodiliness for the purposes
of third parties or even great majorities. The paper considers the principle
of a primordial ownership of the body by no one other than the „embod-
ied subject” itself, an argument developed especially in the Kantian tradi-
tion, and shows the risks of any anonymisation and external administra-
tion of the human body (as the objectiveness of subjectivity) in societies
predominated by a technological way of viewing not only the world, but
also the human individual.

Key Words: “Duty” to donate eggs, Exploitation of women, Freedom of
science, Human bodiliness as principle of law, Instrumentalisation of the
body, Kinds of human cloning, Politics of language, Reproductive rights,
Right to research, human bodiliness, Right to therapy.

More than any other bioethical topic, the problem of human cloning presents an undoubtedly epochal challenge for contemporary ethical reflection.1 Assuming there are cases where this might suffice, in this case it is certainly not enough for bioethics simply to delimit, theoretically analyse and, in the framework of the broadest possible consensus, offer practical solutions to a problem that has arisen as a consequence of new options for human conduct. The ability to clone humans touches much more basically upon issues not only of individual human self-understanding, but also upon questions concerning the constitution of modern societies, it touches upon fundamental issues concerning ethics and law - it addresses dimensions which greatly exceed the need for a mere dispute among professional ethics experts. This was foreseeable inasmuch as the “cloned human” had an almost magical allure long before his first technological realisation, when it was nothing but a figment of imagination - it may even be no exaggeration to say that it was a singular phantasm of the

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