Eugenics is a movement whose goal is to make the genetic composition of the human race better. In ancient times to achieve these goals eugenicists advocated for selective breeding. However in these modern times altering the genes of an individual directly is possible, although people differ in opinion on how to ethically use this technology. The term eugenics was first used by the cousin of Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton to mean well-born. He believed that individuals selectively breeding would help the human race in directing its future. Based on Galton's studies in Britain he concluded that only the right genetic makeup made a person to be influential in society.
Eugenics as Pseudoscience in XX Century Great Britain
In Britain, eugenics was seen to cause public fear of genetics. However, this fear was considered by scientists and ethicists to be a result of misunderstanding or ignorance. The conservative view is that the eugenics movement of the first four decades of this century was based on misunderstandings of genetics or bad science. The implication of this view is that now we know so much more about genes, and have witnessed the terrible cost of eugenics, we would not make that mistake again.
Eugenics was a racist pseudoscience the aimed at clearing out all human beings that we regarded as unfit leaving behind only a selected that were conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Sterilization and segregation policies and marriage restrictions were enacted enshrining elements of philosophy. California was among the top five states to adopt such laws by early 1910. This attributed to a substantial number of marriages being barred and thousands of Americans being sterilized. On average, about half of coercive sterilizations were done in California before the eruption of World War II in the 1940s. Their surgeries were still recorded in the state after the war.
The creation of the Repository for Germinal Choice, which was a sperm bank, in the 1970s renewed positive eugenics with the aim of collecting sperms from Olympic-level athletes. This made it possible for women to be able to produce without having to be in relationships. In spite of most Nobel Prize winners openly showing their unwillingness to donate to the sperm bank, the idea still took off. Up to date, there are online ads that regularly request eggs or sperm from donors who have to meet certain qualifications for health, intelligence.
Apart from the practice of prenatal genetic testing widely spreading it grants couples the opportunity to choose a genetic maker with traits that they would prefer their fetuses to have. In some cases when lactating mothers find some undesired gene after having a prenatal test, they might decide to abort, with the planned to attempt a new pregnancy later (Coutts & Holly Kristin). This goes against most religions and is regarded as evil. Such acts have given rise to the constant rise in the fight between religious and eugenic practices.
Determination of whether a parent is a carrier of a certain disease can be prescreened thanks to modern genetic technology. It is now possible to provide detailed information to parents about their unborn babies. In spite of being concerned with shifting the way a family views parenting, this technology has enabled informed decision to be made. Due to the existence of modern advancements if a child is born with any health problem guilt will haunt the parents if they did not pursue genetic testing before getting the child (Robert A. Nye). The most important distinction between modern genetic technologies that are considered by most as eugenic and the historical use of eugenics is approved.
It is comforting that currently, individuals can only pursue genetic testing if only they are willing. People are not forced into testing or be demanded to undergo an operation like sterilization, based on the results of a genetic test. There is freedom since people differ in opinion concerning genetic testing about making a decision on reproduction and possible eugenic motivations. Most eugenicist authors have failed to acknowledge that there is the difficulty of defining traits in the field. A character such as eye color, blood group, and skin competition is easy to measure and define by eugenicists.
However, when it comes to traits like intelligence, criminality their prediction is not only sophisticated but also subjectively defined (Haralambakis). Although Thomas Hunt noted this problem and criticized his work was not taken as it deserved. Another faulty is reification, which is the tendency to treat behavior as if it is a single entity. For instance, intelligence was treated by eugenicists as if it was represented by a single factor. Only one criterion was assumed to fit too generically in measuring intelligence.
Issues in Methodology in Eugenics
Another faulty in the methodology in eugenics is inadequate statistical methods and surveys. In rare cases did a eugenic researcher have a direct conversation with family members so as to determine where the trait under study originated from? Also in ancient times, very few hospitals preserved medical records and as a result lineage information was got through second-hand reporting this was not that accurate.
Even though eugenicists argued that IQ tests were precise and unbiased in measuring intelligence they still contained questions that were prejudiced and depended on both experience and cultural background. Eugenicists have always been ridiculed for their belief that behavioral traits like talents and dispositions are inherited. According to most eugenicists, the key to the transmission of talent and character was the single attribute of intelligence.
The increase in IQ testing and the labeling and grading of degrees of mental incompetence was intimately associated with eugenic. Immorality or any unexpected behavior was traced to the inadequacy of intelligence. From this point of angle, all eugenicists were of the idea that social problems had a biological basis, and also, at least, a potential remedy that was biological. The linkage between biology and society was understood differently (Johanna Schoen). Despite this assumption, all eugenicists agreed with each other on the overall goal of their movements. Improving the overall quality of the generic pool was the fundamental goal of all eugenics in those countries that did not believe in the genetic theories of Galton.
Since eugenics antedated the contemporary revolution in molecular biology and genetics, it suggested the necessity of relying almost exclusively on changing the breeding practices of human beings. To add on eugenicists did not see reproduction as a private matter but rather as an act with social consequences. It is true to say that not all eugenicists agreed that reproduction should be controlled by the state. For instance, Galton was the idea that eugenics be made a civil religion so that people may be voluntary consent with eugenic guidelines.
If there were a strong belief shared among all eugenicists, it would have to be exhibited in the most general manner. The concern is to improve the human way of life through selection--that is, by setting up strategies that guarantee the children that are born into existence will be able to enjoy comfy living standards and of contributing to the improvement of lives for others. This, most would agree, is an unexceptionable aim C and its general appeal helps account for at least some of the vast appeal of the eugenics program. But behind this genial promise lay a multitude of sins.
Eugenics wanted to improve human life but in a distinctive way. They believed they could cause good people to be conceived and born, rather than by directly improving any person morally. People that were already born would indirectly reap any benefits from this. Prevention of disease through the prevention of lives that would involve the disease is to slander the meaning of preventive medicine completely. It would lead to the gross claim that the National Socialists played a big role in preventing future generations from Tay-Sachs (McDonald).
On the record of the eugenics movement, the involuntary sterilization of tens of thousands of Americans and Europeans were the worst stain asides from the Nazis' crimes. In many instances, those who warned against the return to eugenics had infringements of reproductive freedoms in mind. Indeed, the eugenic program, once theories of heredity were abandoned, consisted largely of trying to command who would mate with whom. And this was the sole methodology that the eugenicists had in mind for influencing the genetic structure of new generations. Identifying eugenics with violations of reproductive freedom may seem appropriate and in turn, condemn both on the same grounds.
In spite of eugenics being imposed by force, in the form of sexual segregation and sterilization, in other instances, it was utterly voluntary. Today, the eugenics-minded government offers those that are not yet married cruises to intellectual women hoping that they will find husbands and replicate. By no means is this violation of reproductive freedom, even if it is wrong-headed (Sheehy).
Progressive Movement in Eugenic
Eugenics was the foundation for the progressive movement in the United States in the first half of the 20th century and was closely associated with the birth control movement and Planned Parenthood. At least in states such as those in the United States, reproductive freedoms are satisfactorily well-established that there is no need to instill fears about the return of coercive eugenics in the wake of the Human Genome Project. It is correct to say that at least in the next term sterilizations on a mass scale are inconceivable in this country. The same may not hold in nations with weaker traditions and which do not have entrenched legal protections for reproductive freedom.
In the past few years, quite a small but substantial number of scientists and eugenicists started demanding reconsideration. Some advocated for the development of inheritable genetic modification and the vast use of selection technologies like a pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Some people have given credit to these technologies as a way to stop control of human evolution while on the other hand others see them as an efficient and quick way to produce enhanced children. However, there still exist some traditional eugenicists who focus on alleged racial and group dissimilarities in behavior and intelligence. But many eugenicists seek to distinguish their high-technological visions from earlier programs. They claim not to be the support government coercion and racism that exemplified eugenicists of the twentieth century.
The recent advances in reproductive technology and genetics have paved the way for a new form of eugenics, which is termed modern eugenics or just simply human genetic engineering. This technological progression focuses on amending the damaged genes allied to diseases or other health conditions. Human genetic engineering is a branch of science that involves the manipulation of an individual's genetic structure, or genotype, with the purpose of altering his or her observable traits. It can be divided into two sub-divisions, namely: negative engineering, which is the correction of genetic disorders and deficiencies; and positive engineering, which entails means used to enhance a person's genetic make-up.
Scientists have moved closer to making the possibilities of human genetic engineering reality and this calls for open debate on the subject. Public awareness must rise on the emergence of technologies and encourage open and honest dialogue between the public and eugenicists about their potential uses and consequences. In general, a personal genetic code is the master blueprint that determines nearly everything about him or her. It not only determines one's intellectual gifts, or artistic gifts but also establishes the...
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