Eugenics and Genetic Testing Essay

Eugenics and Genetic Testing Essay

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The history of harmful eugenic practices, spurring from the Nazi implementations of discrimination towards biologically inferior people has given eugenics a negative stigma (1,Kitcher, 190). Genetic testing, as Kitcher sees it through a minimalistic perspective, should be restrained to aiding future children with extremely low qualities of life (2,Kitcher, 190). He believes that genetic engineering should only be used to avoid disease and illness serving the role of creating a healthier human race. He promotes laissez-faire eugenics, a “hands off” concept that corresponds to three components of eugenic practice, discrimination, coercion and division of traits. It holds the underlying works of genetic testing, accurate information, open access, and freedom of choice. Laissez-faire eugenics promises to enhance reproductive freedom preventing early child death due to genetic disease (3,Kitcher, 198). However there are dangers in Laissez-faire that Kitcher wants to avoid. The first is the historical tendency of population control, eugenics can go from avoiding suffering, to catering to a set of social values that will cause the practice of genetics to become prejudiced, insensitive and superficial. The second is that prenatal testing will become limited to the upper class, leaving the lower class with fewer options, creating biologically driven social barriers. Furthermore the decay of disability support systems due to prenatal testing can lead to an increased pressure to eliminate those unfit for society (4,Kitcher, 214).
Kitcher introduces Utopian eugenics, as a solution that improves the quality of an embryonic life. He envisions a world where education is used to enlighten peoples understanding of molecular genetics and allows t...


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...of eugenics to create tailored humans with customized characteristics.
The eugenic decision-making that drives all aspects of life in Gattaca strays from the basic principles of determinism. While the advancement of genetic technology should allow for more power and freedoms to express an individuals own values and experiences like Kitcher and Stock imagine, in Gattaca social pressures drive eugenic decisions. The film illustrates actual possibilities of how human life and human societies may operate if responsible eugenics isn’t practiced. It is human nature to advance and adapt to our changing environments, improvements in technology are merely new means of doing so. But as humans we embody ethical values and morals that will always influence our decisions. As a culture influenced by our inherent biology, who is to say that our culture will not remold our biology?

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