Eugenics


Goering, Sara, "Eugenics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/eugenics/

“Eugenics” is a term loaded with historical significance and a strong negative valence. Its literal meaning—good birth—suggests a suitable goal for all prospective parents, yet its historical connotations tie it to the selective breeding programs, horrifying concentration camps, medical experiments, and mass exterminations promoted by Germany's Nazi regime in World War II. Undoubtedly, we have an obligation never to forget the Holocaust, or to allow history to repeat itself. Yet intuitively we have some moral obligation to promote good births—to have, in the most literal sense, eugenic aims. Indeed, if parents are encouraged to provide the best environment for their children (good nutrition, education, health care, a loving family situation, etc.), why not also encourage them to ensure their children have good genes? If we have some moral obligation to secure the well-being of our future children (a question explored extensively in the literature on the non-identity problem), different questions come into focus: how far do such obligations extend, what justifies them, and can related contemporary practices be distinguished, in their aims, forms, justifications, and likely consequences, from the clearly morally impermissible eugenic programs of the past?

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