Tom: "The real comparison should be between the Caplanesque clone dad and a married Caplan having normal 50-50 children with his wife."

Tom you make a good point. However if Paul McCarthy, John Cleese, Phil Collins, divorces etc are any guide ... a disasterous divorce would be much more devastating to the "Caplan Genotype" (including the original...the Dad) than possibel shortcomings of being raised by a single parent. Given that divorce has a 50% probability, perhaps it's better for Caplan to go it alone from Day 1.

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If genetic offspring are good, but clones better, wouldn't that imply that inbreeding is desirable?

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Jack Horner is trying to backbreed a dinosaur from a chicken. Since KFC can absorb his mistakes, we'll probably get that first.

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"brute Darwinian wiring" was actually the term used by my best friend, admitting to it. Wanting to raise children or not may be "brute darwinian wiring" or not. One can imagine many other motives, and it's not all that difficult to find people who profess them. OTOH, wishing to raise your own genetic children but not wishing to adopt doesn't admit many other motives other than darwinian wiring, and I've never found anyone who could defend the distinction rationally.

Yes, there are costs and risks to adoption, but there are also costs and risks to pregnancy. In both cases the costs and risks are frankly small for those who have the luxury to make the decision, and have been getting smaller rapidly over the last century. Barring particularly unusual utility functions, I can usually argue people into conceding that the costs and risks are basically a wash between the two, except for some who calculate the risks of pregnancy to unambiguously greater than the risks of adoption. Even in those cases, pregnancy is favored.

We are, at this level, crazy sexy turing machines.

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"it’s disconcerting to think of making boys without mothers

I think I'm missing your chain of argument. Why?

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Good point! Yes that would be a nice, simple way to get healthyclones. As you said, this requires considerable foresight. Also, theforesight must be on the part of the parents of the child who may latergrow up to want a clone of themselves. This would get rid of theuncertainty about whether human cloning could be made to workreasonably successfully, and reduces the market question to aquestion of just predicting the popular reaction - and, in that case,I can believe that there is enough expertise around to make puttingthe question to the market reasonable.

On another note: tom wrote of there being relatively few conservativeshere. Note that cloning is fundamentally a conservative action. If 10%of the next generation were clones of their parents, instead of theproduct of sexual reproduction, then 5%-10% _less_ genetic changehas happened between generations than usual.

(Full disclosure: I'm childfree, and have no personal interest in cloning)

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Re: "the usual arguments for preferring to raise a genetically-related kid would seem to endorse clones as even better."

Except among biologists - most of whom tend to think that sexual recombination is advantageous in the short term - and that raising a clone exposes it to costly risks of infection by pathogens that have already tuned into its parent's genome.

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Frankly, I just find it a bit hard to understand why you wouldn't want to gamble on making a better person than yourself. If you had no other good DNA sources other than yourself that you had access to, then fine. But otherwise, why would you want a "good enough" copy when you can take a risk and make something better?

One thing I find interesting about Caplan's statement is that it seems to be based in part on going to lengths to avoid the issue that children ultimately do not consent to or choose their creation, and cannot consent to or chose their creation, by adopting a reasoning that the clone is sufficiently the same person as Caplan himself that this is not an issue (or that this is reduced relative to biological children and therefore a more optimal choice). This seems to me to display a weird edge case of Libertarian thinking.

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Peter, we already worry about kids of single parents and whether the other parent invests enough/anything

I'd guess that about 95% of single parenthood today is medium-low income women raising their kid/s alone and without having planned it that way from the beginning.

If you're asking whether the idea of a Caplanesque single guy with a lot of money raising his clone with a great education and lots of attention is better than that prototype single parent, I'd probably say yes. But it's a Murphy Brown-type comparison. The real comparison should be between the Caplanesque clone dad and a married Caplan having normal 50-50 children with his wife.

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Jeffrey: you're unduly pessimistic about how hard this is.

The Dolly approach of taking an adult cell, etc. etc. etc. is about the hardest way to do it. There are much easier ways to do it.

For example, here's how we could be doing it right now: take an egg, fertilize it in a tube IVF-style, split the blastocyst in twain; if implanted, this would probably become a twin, but our mad scientist instead freezes one half, and implants the other. That implanted blastocyst grows up, and 30 years later, has the frozen one implanted into a surrogate/his wife. The delayed one pops out, a genetic replica of the original.

No issues about health, aside from the deep-freezing. No aging issues. Straightforward current consumer-level technology. Its only downside compared to the Dolly approach is that it requires considerable foresight and time investment. But the result is the same: one infant with DNA xyz, one adult with DNA xyz.

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Prolorn: well, how similar are identical twins? From what I've heard, *very* similar.

Caplan and his son-clone would have different upbringings, and so I would expect them to be not as similar as identical twins.

But the benefit of the son-clone and not twin-clone is that the original can reflect on their upbringing and try to do it better the second time. He can front-load all the things he loved, without the wasted time.

(Just on medical grounds alone, a son-clone might be better than a son-mutt. What's even better than a thorough family medical history? A medical history of an identical twin who is 30 years older.)

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So should we one day worry about the incentives of single parents who choose to reproduce in ways other than cloning, and thus have sub-optimal genetic incentives to raise their children well?

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The point of Tyler bringing up his step-daughter was to illustrate that many of the arguments being leveled against Bryan for wanting a 100%-similar offspring could also be leveled to a lesser extent to those who have preferences for 50%-similar offspring.

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That's presumably why Caplan is "confident" that his son would be happy to be raised by him, not "100% super-duper sure".

I think people who are reading this paragraph as Bryan believing that his clone would *be* him are misreading him - he's saying that he would personally have probably liked to have been raised by himself, and that this would probably hold true for a clone of his simply due to their likely similarity.

Perhaps this is something that Bryan should clarify, because I can see it being a real source of misunderstanding.

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Robert, I agree. But it's still unprecedented.

And to bring it back to an example, what if Bryan's wife said "I'm interested in that. But let's have it be me cloned, not you." Based on Bryan's comments about his clone boy, he'd be less than enthused.

That also brings up the male/female question. If you believe at all that traditional gender roles are hard-wired (they are), it's disconcerting to think of making boys without mothers. And my guess would be that many more men than women would want this particular type of legacy.

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@Grant: Caplan's clone is more likely to resemble Caplan than a naturally conceived child, but is the genetic influence on personality anywhere near strong enough to justify Caplan's confidence that his clone will be just like him?

I confess that I take anti-cloning arguments personally. Not only do they insult the identical twin sons I already have; they insult a son I hope I live to meet. Yes, I wish to clone myself and raise the baby as my son. Seriously. I want to experience the sublime bond I'm sure we'd share. I'm confident that he'd be delighted, too, because I would love to be raised by me. I'm not pushing others to clone themselves. I'm not asking anyone else to pay for my dream. I just want government to leave me and the cloning business alone. Is that too much to ask?

I agree that the idea of raising a genetic clone sounds interesting (mildly less so than sharing a genetic twin), but I would never deceive myself that such a clone would be me.

Caplan's response to cloning suggests, as did his response to cryonics, that he possesses confused notions of personal selfhood.

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