Right to an Open Future

Some have argued that cloning a human being is objectionable because the clone is expected to be like the person from whom he or she was cloned and thus would not be free to develop independently. Joel Feinberg has written about what he calls the "right to an open future" and Hans Jonas "the right to ignorance." The idea is that each person should be free to construct his or her own life and develop a unique self. However, a clone would be expected to use the person from whom he or she was cloned as a model. His or her future would already be given and known. Even if such expectations for the clone were not generally accepted, people would be hard pressed not to at least entertain such ideas. The argument also points out that an essential feature of having a child should include accepting whatever the child turns out to be. This would mean accepting the child as a unique being. Children are not objects to be controlled, nor to mold in a particular image. They have their own lives to lead. Parents may try to influence them and teach them while realizing that the children may decide to do or be different, which is their right as individual persons.

Critics of this argument may admit that there might be some inclination to have certain expectations for the clone. However, they argue, this undue influence is a possibility in the case of all parents and children, and not limited to clones. Parents decide on what schools to send their children and what sports or activities they will promote. The temptation or inclination may exist to unduly influence their children, but it is incumbent on parents to control the extent of that influence. The goal is to provide children with opportunities of various sorts from which the children themselves eventually choose. It is not cloning, these critics contend, that would cause a threat to an open future for a child, but the attitudes and character of parents and others.

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