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Selected Publication:

Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2015

Authors: Camenzind, S

Title: On Clone as Genetic Copy: Critique of a Metaphor.

Source: Nanoethics (9), 1 23-37.

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Camenzind Samuel

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Ethics and Human-Animal Studies

A common feature of scientific and ethical debates is that clones are generally described and understood as "copies" or, more specifically defined, as "genetic copies." The attempt of this paper is to question this widespread definition. It first argues that the terminology of "clone as copy" can only be understood as a metaphor, and therefore, a clone is not a "genetic copy" in a strict literal sense, but in a figurative one. Second, the copy metaphor has a normative component that is problematic in the context of descriptive science and may support or indicate the ethically relevant phenomenon of objectification of animals. In order to support the argument against the common conception of a clone as a copy, the biotechnological principles of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning will be examined. On this basis, it will be shown that the metaphor is valid because of similarities between the phenotype, the genotype, or the nuclear DNA sequence of the clone and its progenitor by using three prominent levels of comparison (clone as phenotypical, genotypical, and nuclear copy). Focusing on the process of SCNT, it will be shown that cloning as copying or doubling has to be redefined for scientific purposes because it is neither necessary nor does it fit to the biotechnological principles of cloning. It is more accurate to understand SCNT cloning as a process of splitting rather than of doubling or copying. In the second part, a deconstructivist analysis based on Jacques Derrida's description in Positions (1981) will reveal the normative potential of the original-copy dichotomy. I will be showing that it includes an asymmetrical power structure between the original (progenitor) and the copy (clone) and that this structure can be reversed or at least considered unstable. Therefore, arguments that build on that metaphor must be reconsidered. Moreover, the analysis reveals that applying a terminology to humans and animals that is commonly used for things becomes the language of objectification. Two selected examples, fungibility and violability, based on Martha Nussbaum's notion of objectification will support the thesis of objectification, display its normative consequences, and put the clone as a copy metaphor in a broader range of ethically questionable research tendencies.

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