The ethics of eugenics Essay

The ethics of eugenics Essay

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The theory of eugenics has changed throughout time from its conception by Sir Francis Galton to its modern technological interpretation in the 21st century. The term has been embraced by Social Darwinists, Progressives, human genetic engineers, and Nazis, to just name a few. The theory’s popularity has undergone cycles of approval and upheaval as it is a fairly conceptually fluid idea. Today its definition is still hazy, with both sides of its controversial spectrum debating what it really means. Is it the unethical practice used by Nazis, or a promise of a better future for the human race? It is necessary to investigate its presence throughout history, as well as examining its context in modern society to completely understand the concept of eugenics.

The term Eugenics is derived from the Greek words eu, meaning good or pleasant, and gennos, meaning birth. Conceptually, the term is somewhat convoluted from the input of different ideological disciplines. Some believe the entire term itself should be disregarded as a racist pseudoscience, while others believe it is a dually positive- and negative-natured, perhaps double-edged, sword of a term. Some use the term to define the past practices of Nazis; others have adopted the popularized term to now mean modern human genetic research. Eugenics can also be separated into either a branch of social philosophy or the present and ongoing research of contemporary human genetics and its future implementation.
The Early History of Eugenics
Sir Francis Galton first coined the term eugenics to mean something similar to his cousin Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Galton believed humans could be bred similarly like animals, for better intelligence, beauty and talent, while those of unwan...


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Paul, D. B. (1992). Eugenic anxieties, social realities, and political choices. Social Research., 59(3), 663-683. Retrieved from http://encore.utep.edu:50080/ebsco-web/ehost/detail?sid=6ad4d9b8-df98-4d1e-b060-60d6028905e3@sessionmgr112&vid=1&hid=119&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl.
Powell, R. (2012). The evolutionary biological implications of human genetic engineering. Journal of Medicine & Philosophy., 37(3), 204-225. doi: 10.1093/jmp/jhq004
Smith, A. (2013, May 21). The history of us immigration law: Unapologetic racism. 1-800-Politics, Retrieved from http://www.1800politics.com/the-history-of-immigration-law-unapologetic-racism/
Wikler, D. (1999). Can we learn from eugenics? Journal of Medical Ethics, 25(2), 183-194. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27718281






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