With the development and application of artificial reproductive technology, humans are able to “artificially reproduce.” However, a series of ethical problems and conflicts have arisen from the practice of artificial reproduction, suggesting that modern artificial reproductive technology serves as a kind of “double-edged sword” – it provides both benefit and harm to human beings. How to attend to the ethical conflicts arising from artificial reproduction, and more importantly, how to develop adequate contemporary ethics to provide guidance to society regarding artificial reproduction, are crucially important ethical tasks that must be addressed. This essay argues that Confucian ethical wisdom and principles should be drawn upon to develop a legitimate Chinese bioethics and a suitable Confucian ethical construction of artificial reproduction in contemporary Chinese society.
Based on Confucian ethical wisdom and insights, this essay argues that a Confucian ethical construction of artificial reproduction should include the following principles to direct relevant policy formulation and guide human conduct. The Confucian principle regarding human life is that humans are the most noble of all sentient beings. Regarding the relation between morality and benefit, Confucianism advocates a harmonious association, in which benefit should be pursued under the constraint of morality. Regarding a suitable view of nature, Confucian wisdom emphasizes the unity of Heaven and human – the Dao of Heaven is, in the metaphysical sense, followed by both nature and humanity. Regarding lives and things in the world, Confucianism upholds the ideal of honoring life and caring for things to create an ordered world. Regarding life and death, the Confucian vision is that life should be happy and death should be peaceful. Regarding one’s social responsibility, the Confucian principle is that one must follow the call of righteousness (yi) and should never violate righteousness for one’s self-interest. This essay argues that these valuable intellectual and moral resources should be drawn upon in shaping a contemporary Confucian ethical construction of artificial reproduction.