The new ethical situation created by new discoveries in bio-engineering needs the establishment of ethical criteria in order to judge the morality or immorality of a specific act in, for example, human cloning. But, in Chinese ethical tradition, especially in the Confucian one, much attention has been paid to normalize sexual behavior and no ethical consideration was done on reproduction outside human sexuality. Even this is the case, the general ethical principles established by Confucianism and other ethical traditions are still valid when applied to the newly emerging technological ethical issues. Therefore, in this paper, I would first derive from Confucian ethics and Western utilitarian ethics, obligation ethics and virtue ethics, five ethical criteria, restructured in a hierarchical order, for judging the ethical issues of human cloning. These criteria are: the criterion of conservation, the criterion of development, the criterion of free will, the criterion of excellence, the criterion of harmony.
Basically, the author of this paper sustain the position that only the criterion of conservation gives us the most supportive argument for doing human cloning, even if this argument is still defective. This means that we can clone a member of family or race in order to conserve it from total perishing or extermination. The criterion of conservation, articulated in Modern Western philosophy and also in Chinese culture, if not morally perfect in itself, serves the technical act of human cloning as the minimum requirement.
The criterion of development could be considered in two ways: differential variability and qualitative betterment. Considered from the side of differential variability, the technique of human cloning could be considered as a project of anti-differentiation or anti-variation. Still it could contribute to development only through conservation, of the otherwise perishing races or families for example. As to the qualitative betterment, it should be always achieved through volitional effort and not merely through biological genetic engineering.
All human action should be mediated by free will in order to become moral. This should be taken into account also in the human cloning experimentation. But this does not mean, if supported by conservation argument and motivated by altruistic reasons, human cloning cannot be performed without the consent of the future cloning, unable to give consent because of inexistence for the time being. In this case, cloning could be ethically done, taking into account the moral example of donation of organs of the dead in accident, donation agreed by his/her parents rather than by the accident-victim. But this reasoning does not apply in the case of cloning motivated by commercial interest. But even if this kind of experimentation could be morally accepted, there is still a complementary condition: that there is no pre-visible danger, pain or discomfort caused by the experimentation.
Up from the criterion of free will, we enter into the domain properly human and moral. It is on this level, and also on the levels of arguments from excellence and harmony, that we find most of the ethical difficulties of human cloning. For example, in the case of criterion of excellence, all moral excellence are morally valuable when resulted from the decision of human free will and volitional effort. No one could be morally legitimate to conduct human cloning by reason of producing a human being with better human qualities. All human qualities are social and historically determined. One quality considered as good in one time could become bad in another. The biological experimentation conducted under the pretext of producing better human race could be just a sign of tyranny, as in the case of Hitler.
As I see it, many actual arguments against human cloning are based upon a social interpretation of the criterion of harmony. For example, that human cloning might be subversive to actual human sexual relationship, parenthood and family system. In my view, although ethical relationship is surely to be disturbed by human cloning, still this is not a sufficient argument against doing it. Because, for example, the argument of conservation could be more urgent and stronger. For me the most important consideration here is the interest of the child. It is of higher interest for the child that he/she be born with the love and care of his parents rather than becoming an object of human technological adventure.
Argument of conservation, being supportive of human cloning, could be realized and concretized through an ethical committee authorized by relevant laws to decide in which case and under what condition a particular case of human cloning could be interpreted as suitable for the criterion of conservation. But this enters the domain of legal institution and exceeds our ethical concern in this paper.