i have a question about cloning, if a person had his/her DNA sample like hair or blood used to make a clone wouldn't that clone be that same person's brother or sister since they share the same genetic makeup? also, what if a person had heterozygous genes and had two clones? but the clones had their alleles swapped making one clone have most of that person's dominant genes while the other had that person's recessive genes making the clones homozygous, would that make the person a father of mother to those clones or a blood related brother or sister?


This actually isn't a biology question, it's a moral, legal and semantic question. "Siblings", biologically, are offspring of the same parent(s). A clone, as developed through human technology, isn't the offspring of any parent in the usual sense. It was not generated from a pair of gametes that came from two different parents; it came about via a completely different biological process, one that doesn't really occur in nature (there are many natural processes that result in identical copies we call "clones", but none of these does exactly the same thing as technological process we call "cloning").

Biologically, a clone is a clone, siblings are siblings, and they come about via very different processes.

None of this means that legally, or morally, or by the dictionary definition, we cannot redefine "sibling" to include clones. And it makes perfect sense to do so. It could also make sense to define clones as "offspring" instead. This could be based on genetic similarity, or on other things.

The thing is, there isn't an obvious single answer to how they should be redefined if human cloning were a thing. This isn't an issue human society has had to deal with yet so none of these redefinitions have happened.

For an idea of what they could look like though, I'm reminded of Lois McMaster Bujold's science-fiction Vorkosigan series, that deals with cloning (in books like Brothers in Arms in particular). Different societies in her books deal with cloning in different ways, and human clones have different statuses. One of those societies (one of the more sensible ones) considers a clone to be the child of the cloned person if it's an adult cloning themselves to make a baby, but to be the sibling of the cloned person if the person's parents decided to clone their child. Basically, in that society the people who decided to make the clone would be considered its parents, and the clone's genetics would have nothing to do with it.

Note that even in our society, siblings and parents aren't only defined by genetic similarity or any biological process, but by a legal relationship, shared history and responsibilities. Adoptive parents and siblings are considered in many (most? all?) countries to be legally equivalent to biological parents and siblings.

  • $\begingroup$ but you just said "A clone, as developed through human technology, isn't the offspring of any parent in the usual sense." then said "It could also make sense to define clones as "offspring" instead." so would a clone be a sibling or offspring to the original? also, to be a sibling to a clone is exactly what i meant if someone was cloned off of since it's that same person's DNA being replicated. $\endgroup$ – sarah san Aug 27 '18 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ @sarahdan I am saying that right now, there is no definition of "sibling" or "offspring" that includes clones. My second paragraph was about how we might change the definitions to include clones, but I can't tell you in advance what the governments, ethics commissions, supreme courts and people of the world will change them to if human cloning happens, because that hasn't happened yet. Do you understand what I mean by this not being a biological question? Adoptive siblings are siblings but that has nothing to do with biology, wouldn't you agree? $\endgroup$ – Oosaka Aug 28 '18 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ i agree, but i can't help but feel that if you were cloned you and your clone would be siblings since you share the same genetic code. $\endgroup$ – sarah san Aug 28 '18 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ @sarahdan to put my answer differently, your question seems to assume that "siblings" and "parents" are defined by genetic similarity. But this is not true. Parents and siblings are defined by how an individual came to exist. If it was formed from the union of two gametes, the organisms the gametes came from are its parents. If other organisms came from the union of gametes from those same parents, they are siblings. All other systems for making new organisms involve extending the definitions or using new words. $\endgroup$ – Oosaka Aug 28 '18 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ @sarahsan in nature plenty of organisms reproduce by making copies that share the exact same genetic code, and those are usually referred to as "parent" and "offspring" but it depends on context. They are also sometimes seen as parts of a same, larger clonal organism. So you see "same genetic code" doesn't mean "siblings". You assume that because in humans, the only people with identical genes are twins, who are siblings by the standard definition (children of the same parents). But humans don't reproduce by cloning, so we have no words or definitions for the relationships between clones. $\endgroup$ – Oosaka Aug 28 '18 at 6:40

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