Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Cloned monkeys and moral anthropology

As I proposed in my very first MOJ post, nearly 14 years (!) ago, and as I've contended in a few articles over the years (e.g., here and here), answering pretty much all questions about legal institutions and doctrines requires, in the end, engaging with big questions of moral anthropology, e.g., what does it mean to be a person and why does it matter that one is a person?  What is the nature, and what is the destiny, of the person?  These questions were, of course, at the very heart of the work and pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II.  I wrote once:

“Are human beings different from meat?” A recent book review opens with the complaint
that this is “[a]n example of the worst type of modern philosophical question”; a question that, “[f]or
those among us who have never been invited into Socratic dialogue by, say, a porterhouse, . . . is
dumb in ways rarely thought possible before.”2
The reviewer is right, of course—the question is
“dumb.” Then again, we might wonder if this “worst kind” question is really all that different from
the Psalmist’s own: “Lord, what is man . . . that thou makest account of him?” (Psalms 143:3) The
question, it turns out, is both perennial and profound: “What is man, and why and how does it

Well, here comes news from China about the (alleged) cloning of a monkey in China, prompting the headline, "How can we be special if we're just a bundle of cells?"  How, indeed?


Garnett, Rick | Permalink