Human Trash: Genetic Determinism in Never Let Me Go

ImageYevette Pearson penned an article that is a conversation about the ethics behind human cloning and the type of person (or lack of person) that would result. Just as the film Never Let Me Go allows its characters to wonder about whether the children have souls or not this article delves into whether the genetic material of an organism is really what drives its thoughts and feelings. The article suggests that while cloning humans solely for their organs or other selfish means is morally wrong the real problem isn’t cloning but that we think that because something has genetic material that it is its own person and that altering its genetic information is in some way restricting. The author suggests that people believe that a clone would be less free for the sole reason that its DNA was chosen for them and their fate is sealed, this is called genetic determinism. For example in Never Let Me Go, the characters also acknowledge that their “originals” (the people from which they were cloned) were most likely human trash, individuals that did not provide anything to society. From this stems the possible reason they do not question their purpose in life. They may accept their role as servants to the normal people because deep down they have decided that they deserve no better as clones of seemingly worthless people. Perhaps this problem could be replicated in real life if and when humans start to clone. The offspring may feel as if their future is already planned out for them. If this situation were to occur would it then be morally wrong to create such children who are do not have the same freedom of mind and imagination that traditionally created children would? Pearson goes on to use Never Let Me Go as an example of that even fictional characters do not believe that their DNA is what makes them who they are. As shown by Kathy H’s Narration when she states: “Our models were an irrelevance, a technical necessity for bringing us into the world… It was up to each of us to make our own lives… It is daft to assume you’ll have the same life as your model.” Pearson argues that to imply that a clone is destined to be like its maker is to assume that genes are the sole source for personality and talent. This idea is inherently flawed because by that same note twins will grow up to be the same person, which has already been proved time and time again to be extremely false. So, what is left is a lingering stigma against those individuals created by alternative methods such as cloning rather than any factual evidence of genetic limitations.


Pearson, Yvette. “Never Let Me Clone?: Countering an Ethical Argument against the Reproductive Cloning of Humans.” EMBO Reports 7.7 (2006): 657-60.


Written  by Elizabeth Frieden.


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