Essay on The Practice of Positive Eugenics

Essay on The Practice of Positive Eugenics

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Since its inception in 1883, eugenics has long since been the subject of controversy and a forum for discussion on ethics and morality. Positive eugenics, defined as, "encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits," is considered a benevolent form of eugenics, but can be used for sinister purposes. Negative eugenics, officially defined as, "discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits," is perhaps the more well-known variety of eugenics, with notable examples such as the Holocaust and forced sterilization. In addition, negative connotation makes it difficult for either type of eugenics to be supported and instead raises questions about its relevancy. Both positive and negative eugenics can be used to justify racism, prejudice, and other forms of intolerance and violence; therefore, neither variety of eugenics should be promoted.

Positive eugenics aims to improve the quality of life through increasing reproduction by those in society who are deemed to harbor the best traits, with this feat usually being accomplished by way of voluntary measures. This form of eugenics was the original form, defined in 1883 by the British scientist Francis Galton as, “ a moral philosophy to improve humanity by encouraging the ablest and healthiest people to have more children.” The modern definition of positive eugenics is almost identical to this. Galton, a relative of the evolutionary pioneer Charles Darwin, is considered the father of the eugenics movement. Galton claimed that the human race could be enhanced by means of “artificial selection”, achieved through the reproduction of those with desired traits, leading to an improved human race over...


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Hix, Laura. "Helix Magazine." Modern Eugenics: Building a Better Person?. N.p., 23 July 2009.
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Lombardo, Paul. "Social Origins of Eugenics." Social Origins of Eugenics. N.p., n.d. Web. 24
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"People & Events: Eugenics and Birth Control ." PBS. PBS, 1 Jan. 1999. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
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Reich, Warren. Encyclopedia of Bioethics. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995. Print.

“A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries.” PBS. n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
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