The ‘Techno-Moral’ Case against Cloning: How Martin Heidegger Justifies the Kantians

Babajide Olugbenga Dasaolu (PhD)

Department of Philosophy,

Olabisi Onabanjo University,

P.M.B 2002, Ago-Iwoye. Nigeria. 

Abstract: Cloning is upon us. Virtually, modern technology has made it possible to replicate almost anything on the face of the planet. When scholars concern principally with the religious, legal and medical implications of this engineering technique, this study takes a twist. It evinces that Immanuel Kant and Martin Heidegger, through their reflections on morality and technology respectively, would not have endorsed cloning. Specifically, Kantians have countered cloning on several fronts but have yet to provide a phenomenological outlook for their case.  Whereas Kantians invoke Kant’s second imperative, which lays emphasis on human dignity as it instigates that humans be treated as ends, never as a means, Heidegger’s phenomenological analysis of technology is redolent of this perspective as well. Heidegger’s submission is that modern technology evinces a form of ‘standing reserve’ where everything in the world is treated as resources. It is the inference of this study that such a reading of the duo of Kant and Heidegger informs the techno-moral case against Cloning. Hence, a phenomenological assessment of technology from the perspective of Heidegger grants the position of Kantians more ground against cloning.

1504326172_tekken7_SMALL  PDF   Keywords: Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, Cloning, Humanity, Dignity.


There is no doubt that the arguments put forward for and against cloning, have their ideological underpinnings in ethics, religion, science, medicine and health. However, the aim of the present study is to revisit the subject from the reflections of two German sages: Martin Heidegger and Immanuel Kant. This essay conjoins the ideas of these scholars to articulate that cloning fails do not take the dignity of humanity and life in its entirety, as it ought to. Cloning, with the assistance of technology for altering genes and natural life ‘patterns’, clearly vindicates Heidegger’s position that things including humanity would be treated as means, a perspective shared by Kant writing over two centuries hitherto. In the sections that follow, I shall make give an account of the meaning, nature and philology of cloning. Afterward, the various position of scholars, whether or not cloning is permissible and on what basis follows. Later, the positions of Kant and Heidegger which can be deduced from their reflections is chronicled to endorse my position that none of them would concede to cloning.

Cloning: A Concise Exposition

In this section, emphasis and effort would be put into uncovering what cloning is on the one hand as well as what cloning is not, on the other hand. This exposition is pertinent given the tendency to conjure from Hollywood instances that do not pass muster as cloning, thereby misinforming the populace on the subject. Afterwards, the section engages with scholarly submissions on the subject.

Aaron D. Levine book: Cloning: A Beginner’s Guide defines cloning at its most basic level, “reproduction without sex.”[1] “Sex” as he uses it does not refer to the act of intercourse but to sexual reproduction- joining of genetic material  from two parents into embryo that may, if development goes well, give rise to a new adult  organism. Furthermore, he makes a lucid distinction between sexual reproduction and asexual production (cloning), when he avers that:

All humans alive today were born through sexual reproduction; a single sperm from the male joined with an egg from the female, creating an embryo with half its genetic material derived from each parents. This mixing of genetic material introduces an element of chance into production, ensuring that children differ genetically from their parents. In cloning, offspring are genetically identical to their single parent. Such offspring are the products of “asexual” production. Cloning rather than relying on the merging of egg and sperm, uses the genetic material or DNA from a single cell. This cell is joined to an egg from which the DNA has been removed. Next, this construct is coaxed to develop as if it were newly fertilized egg. If development proceeds normally, the resulting organism will be genetically identical to the single donor. In this case, reproduction no longer generates new combinations of genetic material but faithfully duplicates previously existing ones.[2]

With the foregoing, one is tempted to ask what exactly cloning is. In a literal sense, “Cloning means making copies of one thing.”[3] In other words, Cloning is an umbrella term used to describe various process of duplicating (biological) materials. Etymologically, the term cloning is a derivative of the Greek “Klon” which means to “bud” or “twig.”[4]  Therefore, human cloning means generating at least one copy of another individual person. In a literal sense, “identical twins are genetic copies of each other or clones of each other: they physically look alike and their genetic makeup is identical”[5]. Different people have defined the term cloning. According to Pantaleon Iroegbu, “Cloning is the scientific reproduction of a given organism in its DNA molecule.”[6] It is the production of a clone (another copy) of a given being. It is therefore, a sort of repetition of a being already in existence.

The American Medical Association defining cloning from the human being perspective says in a simple language as “copying a person”.[7] To clone is therefore to make a person or organism again. It is to make clones of a given person, duplicating him or her once, twice, thrice indeed as many times as one wants.”[8] It is to make a carbon copy or more technically to realize a nucleus transplantation of the donor of the cell nuclei.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, clones are any group of plant or animals produced artificially from cells of a single ancestor and therefore the same as it.[9] This definition points to, or rather emphasizes the intrinsic meaning of the word “clone” that is, “sameness”, of the products of cloning to another, (that is, organism cloned from the same source) and to the original ancestor (the cell or organisms cloned were made). However, a closely look at the definition of the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary on cloning; it omits the fact that cloning can occur naturally without being artificially induced. This is where the definition given by The Concise Medical Dictionary becomes more appropriate. According to this source, a clone refers to “a group of cells (can be an organism) genetically identical to each other that have arisen from one cell by an asexual reproduction.”[10]

So far, I have been able to concern specifically with what cloning is. The next task is to patent what cloning is not. In this mould, largely, cloning is not what you see in the movies. In the words of Aaron L. Levine, “It is not photocopying; or at best it is like using a slow and blurry photocopier– so slow, that by the time the copy is made, the original has changed.”[11] If you cloned your dog today, there would not be an exact replica running around and barking tomorrow, as suggested in the Arnold Schwarzenegger hit, The Sixth Day. “Rather, you would create an embryo that could potentially be transferred into the womb of a surrogate mother. Nine weeks later, if all went well, a puppy would be born. This puppy would be genetically identical to your dog but, obviously, much younger.”[12] It might look like its parent had looked as a puppy but it would experience a different environment and, perhaps, mature differently. Movies such as Multiplicity, in which an overworked contractor clones himself to help cope with his busy life, ignore the time delay essential to cloning. In this case, the movie’s premise, while entertaining, is wrong. The clones, rather than helping at work and around the house, would be a burden. They would be infants, not adults as portrayed in the movie, and like any human infants would need nearly constant attention.

With the distinction between what cloning is and what cloning is not clearly illustrated, now it is not unwise to inquire into the wrongness or rightness of the cloning activity and enterprise. In other words, what are the moral and social implications in cloning as briefly articulated thus far? Has cloning a bright future for not just humanity but the universe in entirety? Does the entire process of cloning take cognizance of human dignity in its process and theory? Scholars are divided on the subject and it would be helpful to commence with those who endorse cloning.

On the Permissibility of Cloning: Exposing the Scholarly and Ideological Dilemma

While the idea of cloning raises a lot of ethical eyebrow, as its agenda is easily greeted with some dose of moral suspicion. This moral suspicion has not yet impeded the flow of arguments coming as support or opposing the idea of cloning. Recognizing this fact, Tamara L. Roleff, the editor of the book, Cloning: Opposing Viewpoints articulates the thoughts of philosophers and ethicists on the issue at stake. Rolef gives the arguments for and against human cloning. He opines, “Those who do not know their opponent’s arguments do not completely understand their own.”[13]

In the same token, David Goodnough in his Book titled: The Debate Over Human Cloning: A Pro/Con Issue, traces the debate on human cloning as far back as 1978. When a science writer David Rorvik wrote a book called In His Image: The Cloning of a man, in which he claimed that that he had witnessed the cloning of a human being. However, the book was later proven to be a hoax, published appropriately enough the day before April Fool’s Day.[14] Still on the origin of the debate on human cloning, David Goodnough noted that, though after the cloning of the Sheep Dolly, the debate for the move into human cloning resurfaced again, it got to its climax in November, 2001 when a small scientific medical company in Massachusetts called Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced that they have clone a human embryo. He observes that        since the cloning of the Dolly, many ethical issues have been raise, such as what is cloning, and why do people find it so alarming? What dangers does it pose, and what advantages does it offer? In the book, David Goodnough clearly describes the cloning process. In addition, he explores the arguments in favour of cloning and those opposed to it, so that readers can make up their minds about his controversial topic.

Since debates on Human Cloning deal with ethical issues, one obvious fact is that making ethical decisions is becoming more and more challenging in today’s complex contemporary culture. Numerous competing ideologies, values, and worldviews are causing some even to question the importance of being moral at all. In the midst of culture ostensibly wandering in a sea of uncertainty about ethics and morality, Scott Rae in his book titled: Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, outlines the distinctive elements of Christian ethics while avoiding dogmatism. The book also introduces other ethical systems and their key historical proponents, including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant.

Furthermore, Rantala M. L. and Arthur J. Milgram, in their edited work Cloning: For and Against raised the following thoughts provoking questions:

Will we soon face with a million Michael Jordans, a million of Bill Gatesses, a million of Saddan Husseins? Will wealthy individuals be able to create genetic copies of themselves, which could give them a kind of immorality? Or will the copies (perhaps produced without heads) be kept in a storage to provide replacement organs?[15]  

They observed that these dizzying questions and, to some nightmarish scenarios have suddenly become very real possibilities within our lifetime, following the successful cloning a sheep by Scottish scientists in 1997. Rantala M. L. and Arthur J. Milgram hold that cloning offers obvious advantages for the infertile, homosexuals who want to reproduce, and as one method for multiplying desirable genetic qualities. It also opens up opportunities for increasing scientific knowledge and saving endangered species.

More so, they observed that though cloning may be beneficial to humanity, but like any technology, there are possibilities for abuse. Thus, this had led some to voiced objections- ethical, religious, esthetic, and practical to any human cloning whatever. In addition, a resulted, many politicians and religious leaders have now maintained that all cloning of human should be prohibited permanently. Since this opinion appears to be a layman conclusion, Rantala M. L. and Arthur J. Milgram have meticulously brought out various ideas and viewpoints by scientists, journalists, philosophers, ethicists, religious leaders and legal experts on the subject matter of human cloning and thereby leaving their readers to decide which view to uphold.

In Moral Choices, Scott Rae, speaking from Christian ethical perspective is not against biotechnology or scientific advancements. He sees biotechnology as man’s assistance to God in the work of creation.  He deals with many substantial ethical dilemmas such as abortion, reproductive technologies, human cloning, sexual ethics, and legislating morality, as well. In his words:

The world of biotechnology is here to stay and the moral dilemmas produced by these sophisticated procedures will become more complicated. Medical technology can be seen in general as part of God’s provision to human beings in the enabling them to more effectively exercise dominion over creation…[16]

In conclusion, Scott opines that the uses of each specific technology must be carefully weighed, and they cannot be exempt from moral scrutiny. In addition, the attitude that suggests that a technology must be used simply because it can be used is very problematic. Just because science advances, it does not follow that society is obligated to make every new technology available. Especially in the complex area of biotechnology and human cloning, moral reflection must keep up with scientific progress.

Like Scott Rae, John Bryant biological scientist and John Searle, the authors of the book titled: Life in our hands: Christian Perspective on Genetics and Cloning challenge Christians to keep abreast in biotechnological development and to respond Biblically. They outline some of the issues at stake, and explore how Christians can make balanced ethical decisions.

The authors also include several useful chapters at the beginning of the book exploring the state of contemporary bioethics, particularly Christian ethical decision-making, and whether or not the use of biotechnology falls within the realm of responsibility of human beings, since they are stewards of God’s creation. The biblical concept of man being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) is fundamental to the Christian perspective on many of these technologies, as Bryant and Searle point out.  They hold that “attempting to clone humans would be to treat humans and in particular; women as experimental objects…using humans in experiments of this type is to deny their dignity as individuals and to use them in a singularly instrumental manner.”[17]

Both John Bryant and John Searle objection to human cloning is not from philosophical point, their argument human cloning stem from the Christian-religious argument that man is made in the image of God.

Just as John Bryant and John Searle argue against human cloning from Christian-religious perspective, some scholars argue for human cloning from Christian-religious, based on the two chapters in the Book of Genesis, where God commanded Adam “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28), and “Be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:7). They single out two words from the injunction of the God to Adam; “multiply and subdue” and apply it to human cloning.  Thus, for them, the questions raised by the opponents of human cloning, such as: if humans can now create new life forms from mixing and matching DNA, how are we different from God? If humans can finally understand the mysteries of what creates life, what place does God have in our lives? They will simply reply: “Multiply and subdue.”

Elsewhere, one find that Leon R. Kass contends that In vitro fertilization and other assisted reproduction technologies that place the origin of human life in human hands have eroded the respect for the mystery of sexuality and human renewal.

Kass believes that unless laws are enacted to prohibit all cloning of humans (including cloning human embryos for medical research), we will soon be faced with a possibility that he views as reprehensible or, in his words, “repugnant.” Thus, he writes:

Cloning creates serious issues of identity and individuality. The cloned person may experience concerns about his distinctive identity not only because he will be in genotype and appearance identical to another human being, but, in this case, because he may also be twin to the person who is his “father” or “mother”- if one can stay call them that. What would be the psychic burdens of being the “child” or “parent” of your twin? The cloned individual, moreover, will be saddled with genotype that has already lived.”[18]

On the other hand, the second author, James Q. Wilson offered much more solid argumentation regarding human cloning. Wilson asserts that whether a human life is created naturally or artificially is immaterial as long as the child is raised by loving parents in a two-parent family and is not harmed by the means of its conception.

Wilson believes that we must resist making hasty legislative decisions and balance our fears with the potential benefits to society. According to Wilson, we should consider the potential humanitarian and scientific merit that cloning human embryos hold. For example, cloned human embryonic research, many argue, is a promising means of finding cures for supposedly incurably illnesses and hereditary medical complications. Wilson also argues that the majority of our anxieties concerning human cloning are largely exaggerated.

Like James Q. Wilson, John Harris a staunch supporter of human cloning in his article: “Goodbye Dolly?” The Ethics of Human Cloning holds that the ethical implications of human clones have been much alluded to, but have seldom been examined with any rigour. Thus, he examines the possible uses and abuses of human cloning and draws out the principal ethical dimensions, both of what might be done and of its meaning. The paper examines some of the major public and official responses to cloning by authorities such as President Clinton, the World Health Organization, the European parliament, UNESCO, and others and reveals their inadequacies as foundations for a coherent public policy on human cloning. The paper ends up by defending a conception of reproductive rights of “procreative autonomy”, which shows human cloning to be not inconsistent with human rights and dignity.

He asserts:

Cloning does not produce identical copies Of the Same individual person. It can only produce identical Copies of the same genotype. Our Experience of identical twins demonstrates that each is a separate individual with his or her own character, preferences and so on. Although there is some evidence of striking similarities with respect to these factors in twins, there is no question but that each twin is a distinct individual, as independent and as free as is anyone else. To Clone Bill Clinton is not to create multiple Presidents of the United States. Artificial Clones do not raise any difficulties not raised by the phenomenon of “natural” twins. We do not feel apprehensive when natural twins are born, why should we when twins are deliberately created? [19]

In reaction to the claims of James Q. Wilson  and John Harris in their support to human cloning, Pantaleon Iroegbu in the book he co-edited with Anthony Echekwube titled: Kpim of Morality: Ethics General, Special and Professional strongly objected to human cloning both from philosophical, moralistic, ethical, religious and natural law standpoint. He argues that cloning diminishes the dignity of human beings, strips human of respect and becomes objects that can be used for experimental material. According to him, argument from human dignity is based on two counts: “the first is that cloning treats human beings as ‘replaceable’. Secondly, cloning ‘instrumentalises’ the human person. Instead of treating the person as ends (Kant), it makes the person a pure utility object.”[20]

Furthermore, Pantaleon Iroegbu makes a critique on those who favour human cloning on the ground that it will help to solve infertility for couples. He maintains:

When cloners for instance claim that cloning will solve infertility cases, it should be noted that infertility as such is not a disease. Infertility does not threaten life of people. Indeed, we have much more serious problems that could be looked into by medical scientists…However, that cloning can help in treating diseases in welcome.[21]

Also, in the book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Cloning, Jay D. Gralla and Preston Gralla give a comprehensive understanding of Biotechnology and Cloning in general. The authors bring to our awareness, the fact that that the technologies that will define our time in the coming generations are: cloning and biotechnology. They hold that the advances made in the past decades have been tremendous and they are only a taste of what is yet to come. They raise the following pertinent questions: If a person can be cloned from our genes, for example, then what makes each of us a unique individual? Thus, the controversial nature of human cloning; including, political, religious and ethical views confront us anew.

At this juncture, Kant’s and Heidegger’s reflections on dignity and treating things as ends but not as means is necessary in order to see if there can be a better of lensing the discourse.

An Exposition of the Kantian-Heideggerian Reflection on Dignity and Worth

The aim of the present section is to uncover the Kant’s moral philosophy and Heidegger’s reflection over technology, with cloning in mind. It would be discovered that both thinkers, even when they never met in person, and were concerned with different intellectual themes, arrived at similar conclusions. We commence with Kant.

Kant was a deontologist. This means that he made ethical decisions by considering the nature of the act itself, not its consequences. Kant would not be interested in the benefits of Human Cloning, but in the sorts of actions, that human cloning involved. By human dignity, Kant means that the human being, which is also the “person” “man‟ or the “rational being” has an absolute inner worth. Kant understands the human person as an intrinsically free being that is an end in itself. The human being is “endowed with inner freedom.”[22]This inner freedom, Kant goes on to say, constitutes the “innate dignity of a human being”[23] and is the “only original right belonging to every man by virtue of his humanity”[24] The human being by virtue of this freedom possesses autonomy[25]. Kant’s most often quoted categorical imperative, his paradigm on the absolute inner value of human dignity, is “so act to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.”[26]

The dignity of the human person, Kant then says, finds its basis in its autonomy, since “as an end in himself, he is destined to be a lawgiver in the realm of ends, free from all laws of nature and obedient only to those laws which he himself gives.”[27] The human being has an absolute worth in and of itself, “that has no price.”[28] The absoluteness is rooted in human freedom, which finds its expression in the absolute autonomy of the human person. We can therefore legitimately lay claim, Kant says, to respect from every other human being and the state, one should add as the recognition of the dignity of each human being that lies in this absolute inner worth. He calls this “the dignity of humanity in every other human being” that raises human beings above all things[29].

The absolute worth of the human person makes Kant writes:

In the kingdom of ends everything has either Value or Dignity. Whatever has a value can be replaced by something else as its equivalent; on the other hand, whatever is above all value and therefore admits to no equivalent, has dignity.[30]

Furthermore, he says:

This estimation therefore shows that the worth of such a disposition is dignity, and places it infinitely above all value, with which it cannot for a moment be brought into comparison or competition without as it were violating its sanctity.[31]

Hence, the act of rational choice (autonomy), of conferring value, is proper to humans alone. Human beings are the sole species that possesses the capacity to determine ends, that is, defining goal(s) to which choices would eventually lead. Korsgaard writes:

 It is Kant’s view throughout his moral philosophy that every action “contains” an end; there is no action done without some end in view. The difference between morally worthy action and morally indifferent action is that in the first case the end is adopted because it is dictated by reason and in the second case the end is adopted in response to an inclination for it. [T]he morally worthy man has adopted this end because it is a duty to have such an end.[32]

In the categorical imperatives, Kant in one of the formulation opines, “Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.”[33] Thus, the moral law, according to Kant, forbids any man to be used simply as means to an end. “This must have influenced Karl Marx’s strong protest against the exploitation of man by man.”[34]  It is an offence against human dignity to use being simply as an instrument to attain one’s ends.

Collaborating this, Paschal Nwaezeapu writes: …human beings have an inherent dignity…As a result; some reproductive techniques have come under intense criticism as being unworthy of human dignity.”[35] Therefore, any artificial reproductive system (example, human cloning) contravenes Kantian second formulation of the categorical imperative about the intrinsic worth of human beings. According to Kant “Everything has either a price or dignity. If it has a price, something can be put in its place as an equivalent; if it is exalted above all price and so admits of no equivalent, then it has dignity.”[36]  Therefore, for Kant, human dignity requires that every human person be treated “never merely as a means, but always also as an end.”[37]

The application of Kant’s theory to issues in the ethics of biotechnology produces some intriguing questions. Do some technologies help persons treat others as mere means? The answer is affirmative. It is the case that the dignity and worth of not only humanity but also life itself has been become an object. Exactly what Heidegger calls “standing-reserve.” Now, the reflection on Heidegger is pertinent.

It is the case that cloning is a consequent of technology. Moreover, technology has been given a phenomenological approach by Heidegger. Put otherwise, Heidegger was deeply committed to the method of phenomenology to unearth the kind of being humans stand in relation to the world.

However, what is phenomenology itself? For Heidegger, phenomenology implies “To let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way which it shows itself from itself.”[38] In furtherance of his position, Heidegger expands that phenomenology “requires us to stick with the things that appear in experience and learn to see them in such a way that they show up as they really are.”[39] From a Heidegerrian angle, how then are we to take a phenomenological excursion into cloning given its affinity technology? This crucial task will inform the remainder of this section.

For Heidegger, and as already revealed above, we must come to appreciate the technological from the way it is presents itself to us, via a free relationship with it. He expatiates thus: “when we can respond to this essence, we shall be able to experience the technological within its own bounds.”[40] However, it is important to decipher that Heidegger does a very important distinction between ‘technology’ on the one hand and the ‘essence of technology’ on the other hand. In this connection, he harps that:

When we are seeking the essence of ‘tree’, we have to become aware that That which pervades every tree, as tree, is not itself a tree that can be encountered among all the other trees. Likewise, the essence of technology is by no means anything technological. Thus we shall never experience our relationship to the essence of technology so long as we merely conceive and push forward the technological, put up with it, or evade it. Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it.[41]

In an effort to conjure a phenomenological analysis of the essence of technology, Martin Heidegger embarks on an analysis of the ‘technology’ from the era of the ancient Greeks whose generic term from technology is ‘techne’.

According to William Lovitt, in a Heideggerian parlance: “Modern technology, like ancient techne, from which it springs -and like science and metaphysics, which are essentially one with it-is a mode of revealing. Being, through its manner of ruling in all that is, is manifesting itself within it.”[42] However, technology was not limited only to these ancients because for Heidegger “That which has come to fruition in Descartes and in all of us, his modern successors, not only took its rise long before in a temporal sense. It also took its rise long in advance from beyond man.”[43] For in its fulfillment Heidegger sees “the holding sway of a “destining” or “sending forth” of Being, that has come upon man and molded him and his world.”[44] It is in line with this reasoning that Emmanuel Ofuasia and Sonia Elizabeth Okogie-Ojieko while chronicling the inner kernel of Heidegger’s reflections on technology infers that for Heidegger, “the “essence of technology” is the very mode of Being’s revealing of itself that is holding sway in all phenomena of the modern age.”[45]

Technology for Heidegger has come upon humanity and even moulded her. Just like in almost all other spheres of life, man has put himself in the position of a subject when every other mode of revealing has been reduced to means. Hence, it does not come as a surprise that “Technology, so understood, is in no sense an instrument of man’s making or in his control. It is rather that phenomenon, ruled from out of being itself, that is centrally determining all of Western history. The failure to comprehend and understand this has led precisely to some of the sufferings humanity faces in modern times.”[46] This is owing to the conviction of Heidegger wherein:

The ‘challenging revealing’ gives humans the sway to order nature as a ‘standing reserve’ to be used without respecting nature’s being. This may be exported to the thoughts on technology too. This is the case as Heidegger compares physis (spontaneously regenerating nature), poiesis (poetic creation or bringing-forth) and techné (a knowing kind of bringing-forth, in both crafts and fine arts, related to epistémé or theoretical knowing), showing that, as modes of “bringing forth” they all represent a kind of (what the Greeks called) alétheia (truth in the sense of “un-concealedness”).[47]

One of the main thrusts that is suggestive of the foregoing is that Heidegger’s reflections invites humans to see technology as a way of revealing that is not higher than any other. It is the inability to come to terms with this reality that it responsible for the ignorance and dominion that technology now seems to have over humanity. Bert Oliver too shares this when he writes that:

while the overall impression is one of the perpetual, progressively reinforcing reduction of all things in the world (including humans) to mere resources, once one has understood that the essence of technology (“Ge-stell “) is “a way of revealing the real” among other such ways of revealing (in art, for example), it frees one from the impression – which keeps the vast majority of people captive – that technology is the only legitimate mode of revealing. And once one realises this, it frees you from the tyranny of technology – it frees you to “use” technological devices without being “mastered” or possessed” by them.[48]

From the excursion into the idea of Heidegger on the technological, one can validly infer that in recent times, technology has become the only mode of revealing, eroding other “other modes of being”. Moreover, the consequences of cloning, coupled with the division of scholars on the subject portrays the bondage that humanity has entered from the tyranny of technology. It is in this sense that humans are no longer treated as ends, because technology reduces everything to the world as mere resources. Humans now treat themselves as means.

Given Kant’s caution regarding the use of humans as means in his ethic, in addition to Kantians’ extension of this thought to cloning, it is even worrisome given Hediegger’s phenomenological reflection on technology that humans are now slave to it. It is the case that even when Kant and Heidegger did not reflect directly on cloning, their ideas of morality and technology respectfully, may be tuned to a similar chorus. With the advent of cloning, the world has lost its essence and dignity. Everything is reduced to resources to be used as means but not as ends.


In this paper, attention has been given to the subject of cloning from the intellectual tanks of Immanuel Kant and Martin Heidegger. It is the case that while the former’s ideas are on morality, they may be extrapolated to propose that cloning treats humanity as an object, as a means and does not have the goodwill at heart but petty and fleeting interests. The latter scholar writing over two decades after the former, proposed that technology, of which cloning is one, sees humans as resources to be used to promote ends. It is therefore the case that the conjoined positions of Kant and Heidegger, interpreted as ‘techno-moral’ in this essay, are opposed to cloning, given its tendency to see everything as an end.


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Ofuasia, E., Okogie-Ojieko, S.E. “A Further Reflection on Martin Heidegger’s Meditation on Technology within 21st Century Mode of Being.” Philosophia: E-Journal of Philosophy and Culture. 2017. (17) pp. 29-44.

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Rantala M. L., Arthur J. Milgram Cloning: For and Against. (Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1999).

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[1] Aaron L. Levine, Cloning: A Beginner’s Guide, (Oxfordshire: Oneworld Publication, 2007), p. 2.

[2] Ibid., p.2.

[3] Richard Sherlock and John D. Morrey, Ethical Issues in Biotechnology, (Lanham, Maryland: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2006), p. 517.

[4] Pascal Nwaezeapu, When does the Human Person Beings? Moral Status of the Embryo and Technology: An Expository Study, (Rome: LEBERIT S.r.i Press, 2007), p. 112.

[5] Sherlock and Morrey, op. cit., p. 517.

[6] Pantaleon Iroegbu, Cloning: “Reality and Morality”, in Kpim of Morality Ethics, op cit., p .636.

[7]American Medical Association (AMA), Why We Should Not Clone Humans, available at: http://www:amawhyweshouldnotclonehumans.htp. retrieved on 7 March, 2015, P.1.

[8] Andrew C. Varga, The Main Issues in Bioethics, (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 77.

[9] Albert S. Hornby,,Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 6th ed., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974).

[10] Jacob C. Handelsman, The Concise Medical Encyclopedia (ed.), (Fort Lauderdale: Paradise Press Inc., 1998), p. 90.

[11] Aaron L. Levine, Cloning: A Beginner’s Guide, (Oxfordshire: Oneworld Publications, 2007), p.5.


[13]Roleff L. Tarama, Cloning: Opposing Viewpoints, (New Jersey: Thomson Gale, 2006), p. 7.

[14]David Goodnough, The Debate Over Human Cloning: A Pro/Con Issues, (New Jersey: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2003), p. 5.

[15] Rantala M. L. and Arthur J. Milgram Cloning: For and Against, (Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1999), p. 278.

[16] Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, (New York: Zondervan, 1995), p.11.

[17] John Bryant and John Searle, Life in our hands: Christian perspective on genetics and cloning, (New York: Inter-varsity Press, 2004), pp. 155-156.

[18]Leon R. Kass and James Q. Wilson, The Ethics of Human Cloning, (Washington, D.C: AEI Press, 1998), p. 17.

[19] John Harris, “Goodbye Dolly?” The Ethics of Human Cloning” in Journal Of Medical Ethics, Vol. 23, 1997, p. 353.

[20]Pantaleon Iroegbu, “Cloning: Reality and Morality” in Kpim of Morality, Pantaleon Iroegbu and Anthony Echekube (ed), (Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 2005), p.645.

[21]Ibid.  p.645.

[22] Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, Part II – Metaphysical first principles of the doctrine of virtue, translated and edited by Mary Gregor, Cambridge University Press 13th edition 2009), p. 174.

[23]Ibid. p. 175.

[24] Ibid. p. 30.

[25] Ibid. pp. 448- 453.

[26] Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of The Metaphysics of Morals in “Basic writings of Kant” Allen Wood (ed.), (New York: The Modern Libbrary, 2001), p. 186.

[27] Ibid. p.192.

[28] Ibid. p. 209.

[29] Ibid, p. 209

[30] Ibid.  p.192.

[31] Ibid. p.192.

[32] Korsgaard, C.M., Creating the Kingdom of Ends, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 107-108.

[33] Immanuel Kant, Fundamental Principles of The Metaphysics Of Morals in “Basic writings of Kant” op. cit., p. 186.

[34] Omoregbe Joseph, Ethics A Systematic and Historical, (Lagos: Joja Educational Research and Publishers Ltd, 1993), p. 224. 

[35] Paschal Nwaezeapu, Bioethics: Childlessness and Artificial Reproductive, (Phoenix Arizona: Leonine Publishers, 2011), p. 192.

[36] Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Herbert James Paton (Translator), (New York, Harper and Row, 1964), p. 102.    

[37] Ibid. p. 105.

[38]Martin Heidegger. Being and Time. Trans J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1962), 58

[39] Ibid, 5

[40]Op Cit, Heidegger 1977, 3-4

[41]Ibid, 4

[42]William Lovitt, “Introduction” M. Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. (New York: Garland Publishing Inc, 1977) xii

[43]Op. Cit, Heidegger 1977, 14

[44]Ibid, 24

[45]Emmanuel Ofuasia, Sonia Elizabeth Okogie-Ojieko. “A Further Reflection on Martin Heidegger’s Meditation on Technology within 21st Century Mode of Being.” Philosophia: E-Journal of Philosophy and Culture. 2017. (17) p. 88

[46]Op. Cit., Emmanuel Ofuasia, Sonia Elizabeth Okogie-Ojieko. p. 39

[47]Op. Cit, Heidegger 1977, 14

[48]Bert Oliver, “Was Heidegger Right About Technology?” Mail & Guardian. Last Assessed April 2, 2017.

Philosophia 19/2018, pp. 24-43