In many controversial topics around the world, such as abortion, gun
control, legalized drugs, the death penalty, and cloning (to name a few), we can
find differing positions, and opinions. Many of these arguments, can be narrowed
down to two different views, or constructs: individualistic and communitarian
(an image of collectivism). An individualistic viewpoint "stresses the rights of
the individual as a unique being" (class review). A communitarian viewpoint is
more concerned with the good for the greatest number, "even if an individual
must suffer or sacrifice" (class review). These different elements do not
necessarily label the people as opposed to, or in favor of the topic here. They
just show where your motivations lie, is your involvement for self fulfillment
or for the good of society? Within the contents of this paper, I will analyze
the elements of individualism and collectivism that exist in the controversial
topic of cloning.
When Dr. Ian Wilmut, a 52-year-old embryologist at the Roslin
Institute in Edinburgh announced on that he had replaced the genetic material of
sheep\'s egg with the DNA from an adult sheep, and created a lamb (Dolly), the
topic of cloning "created" many new questions of its own. None were as
controversial as: Will they apply this to humans as well? According to Dr.
Wilmut, the answer was "there is no reason in principle why you couldn\'t do
it"(clone humans), but he added, "All of us would find that offensive."(Wilmut
as quoted by NYTimes, Daniel Callahan, 02/26/97).
From an individualistic viewpoint, those in favor of cloning human
beings, do not see it as morally, or ethically wrong. Many see it as an
opportunity to have children, or possibly to "re-create" a child who is dying
from a terminal illness. Using a deterministic argument, many infertile couples
are worried that any "government restrictions on human cloning might hurt their
chances some day for bearing children through new medical technology" ( Newsday,
Thomas Maier, 03/14/1997). In a form of expressive individualism, Tom Buckowski,
from Studio City, California said, "It\'s my body, my choice, right? But what if
I want my body cloned and warehoused for spare parts? Upon what basis can
government decide what I can or cannot do with my body?"(Los Angeles Times,
3/07/1997). In both examples, the predominant voice is that of the first
language of individualism. The first language refers to the "individualistic
mode that is the dominant American form of discourse about moral, social, and
political matters" (Bellah et al, Habits of the Heart, pg.334).
Anita Manning, a writer for USA TODAY revealed another
individualistic argument in favor of cloning. In her article "Pressing a
"right" to clone humans," Manning interviews a group of gay activists, who see
"breakthroughs in animal cloning technology as a path toward same-sex
reproduction." With their argument of genetic determinism, many individuals
state that now that the technology is available, its use is inevitable. Randolfe
Wicker, a New York businessperson, founded the Clone Rights United Front after
reports of the successful cloning. He said "we\'re fighting for research . . .
and we\'re defending people\'s reproductive rights." These examples show a very
individualistic language use in favor of cloning, ironically many people who
fight for the rights of individuals, form collectives to do so.
In his Tuesday, February 25, 1997 article Should We Fear Dolly? James
K. Glassman, a writer for the Washington post has more of a "republican" voice
when discussing his favorable views on cloning. A republican voice, or second
language is one that sees the benefits for society as a whole, over the
consideration of the individual, though not exclusively. He points out
"treatments to cure human diseases," and the ability to produce organs for
transplanting as benefits for all of society. Also, with a deterministic voice,
he points out that while cloning people is against the law in other countries,
it is not in the United States. He said "I don\'t think it should be --certainly
not at this stage . . . Trying to stop intellectual progress, in any form, is a
terrible mistake." Furthermore, "the technology is not, in principle, policeable.
In other words, you couldn\'t really stop research on human cloning if you wanted
to." Glassman\'s language is distinctively more communitarian than my previous
examples, though they all favor the technique of cloning.
Most of the "scientific community" (a collective) favors the cloning
of animals. Many, including Dr. Wilmut, argue that the potential for medical
and scientific advances to be enormous. He said any rush to judgement could
"lead to overly restrictive limits on related but less controversial areas of
research" (The Washington Post,