This essay attempts to offer a Confucian view of human cloning. It analyzes the nature of human cloning from the perspective of Confucian ethics. It argues that we should not make simple “Confucian” conclusions about human cloning based on certain isolated Confucian views, but should take a personal view on the fundamental spirit of Confucianism. Evidently, the foundation of Confucian ethics is its view of the Dao of Heaven (tiendao). From the perspective of this essay, the Dao of Heaven offers two principles with which people should comply. The first principle is that the Dao of humans must follow the Dao of Heaven. That is, people’s activities should not violate the will of Heaven. The second principle is the principle of continuous creation or generation (shengsheng buyi). Such continuous creation or generation is seen as the great virtue (dade) of Heaven. Accordingly, the Dao of Heaven is primarily the method of creation, which characterizes Confucian ethics.
This Confucian view of the Dao of Heaven and its two basic principles should be brought to bear on the issue of human cloning in the full sense. By mechanically understanding and applying the principle of generation, it is possible to develop a view of human cloning that grants it legitimacy as a method of reproduction. However, the authentic Confucian sense of generation cannot be understood without the normal relationship between a man and a woman, or specifically, the relationship between husband and wife, which Confucians see as the ultimate starting point of any meaningful human generation. Without the union of husband and wife, human reproduction becomes an unnatural, abnormal event that goes beyond the scope of the Dao of Heaven. That is why Confucianism emphasizes the crucial function of marriage in the normal way of human life. Accordingly, Confucians think that both a father and a mother are necessarily (morally) required to create a normal human child. Techniques such as reproductive human cloning destroy the normal means of human generation and undermine the foundation of Confucian ethics. Confucians cannot accept such techniques.