Thursday, April 29, 2004

Souls in Clones

I just offered the following answer to Ask a Philosopher. Joaquin asked: Would human clones have "souls"? A lot of us think the correct answer isn't very interesting: No, clones would not have souls because no one has a soul. But I assume, based on your question, that you do think that ordinary people have souls. If you think that ordinary people do have souls, I don't see why you should think that clones wouldn't have souls, too. How does the soul work for ordinary people? Maybe it arises from the physical features of our brains -- when a brain has a certain structure, that means there's a soul of a certain kind. If this is the right way to think about souls, then it's easy to see that a clone *would* have a soul -- after all, presumably, it has the right sort of brain. Maybe the soul is NOT connected intimately with the body. Maybe God just *gives* each person a soul when he is born (or conceived, or at whatever time you think soulhood begins). In that case, we must ask, how does God decide whether to give organisms souls? It seems odd to suppse that God gives a soul to every baby that is born through traditional means, and via C-sections, and infants that are cultivated in a labratory, but not clones. Why would God see these creatures, which are in every physical way just like ordinary humans, and refrain from giving them souls? Of course it's *possible* that God just really doesn't like clones, or think that they should have souls, but there's no reason to suppose that would be so. (It would be just as reasonable to think that God doesn't give souls to redheads, because he doesn't like them. It's *possible*, but there's not reason to think that's the way it works.) So I think clones would have souls if ordinary people did.

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