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Cloning Neanderthals: Ethical or not?

Cloning Neanderthals has been a topic of intense discussion in scientific and ethical circles in recent years. The possibility of reviving an extinct species raises numerous questions about the morality and ethical considerations of such an act.

From a scientific perspective, cloning Neanderthals is a complex and challenging task. Although we have sequenced the Neanderthal genome, cloning the species poses significant technical difficulties. We would need to extract intact DNA from well-preserved fossils and find a suitable surrogate, which is a complex and expensive process. 

However, even if we could overcome these obstacles, the ethical implications of cloning Neanderthals remain.

One of the main ethical concerns regarding cloning Neanderthals is the exploitation of the species for scientific research. Neanderthals were a sentient species that coexisted with humans for thousands of years. Cloning them would raise the question of whether it is morally right to use them as mere laboratory specimens for research purposes. Furthermore, it forces us to consider and reflect on whether using living beings as objects or tools for scientific research is ethical.

Another ethical concern is the potential for discrimination and prejudice against individuals with Neanderthal DNA. It is believed that Neanderthals interbred with early humans, and as a result, many people today have a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA. Cloning a Neanderthal could create the false impression that they were fundamentally different from humans, thus potentially leading to discrimination against people with Neanderthal ancestry. This highlights the ethical implications of genetic determinism, which asserts that certain characteristics are genetically predetermined and that individuals cannot overcome them.

Additionally, the welfare of the cloned Neanderthal is another ethical concern. Neanderthals went extinct around 40,000 years ago, and their physiology may not be well-suited to modern environments. Cloning them could subject them to a life of suffering and poor health if we are unable to provide suitable living conditions. In this case, it is important to discuss whether it is ethical to create life without considering the well-being of the cloned individual.

From an ethical perspective, the concept of cloning Neanderthals is highly debatable. Utilitarians may argue that cloning Neanderthals could lead to scientific and medical advancements. Still, at the same time, it may harm the welfare of the cloned individual and lead to discrimination against individuals with Neanderthal ancestry. Deontologists, on the other hand, may argue that cloning Neanderthals is wrong because it is a violation of the dignity and autonomy of the cloned individual.

Cloning Neanderthals is a complex issue with significant ethical implications. While it may seem exciting to revive an extinct species, we must weigh the potential benefits against the potential harm and ethical concerns. We need to consider whether it is morally justifiable to use living beings as objects of research and whether we have the right to bring back an extinct species without considering their welfare. Ultimately, it is crucial to approach this issue with a holistic view that considers both the scientific and ethical perspectives.


Saathvika Diviti `25

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