Eugenics: Breeding and Improving Human Genetics

Topics: Buck v. Bell, Genetics, Eugenics Pages: 5 (1705 words) Published: April 14, 2007
I support the guidelines outlined by Kitcher for the use of genetic information because of their responsible and ethical nature. I believe that future generations will benefit as a direct consequence of these guidelines. I shall begin by defining eugenics as the study of human genetics to improve inherited characteristics of the human race by the means of controlled selective breeding. Chapter 8 of Kitcher's novel, Inescapable Eugenics, identifies past abuses of eugenics resulting from inaccurate, misleading information; abuses that include dominant groups using eugenics to discriminate against other undesirable groups. In 1933, the Nazi's exercised eugenics as a direct way to rid individuals who were portrayed as "unfit" or inferior . During this time period, eugenics was integrated with German culture making citizens believe that individuals who fell into the category of being mentally dysfunctional, homosexual, or Jewish were contamination threats to the superior race. The culture believed this to be correct. In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell ordered the sterilization of Carrie Buck, destroying her fundamental reproductive freedom on the grounds that she was part of a family that yielded 3 generations of imbeciles . Fifty-three years later, a follow up revealed that Carrie lived a normal quality of life. According to Kitcher, Nazi practices of discriminatory eugenics can be avoided with his model of laissez-faire eugenics. His model is centered on the idea that citizens have individual reproductive freedom to evaluate scientific information in their own view, choosing what is morally and ethically right to them . Kitcher also mentions that due to the reliability and success of genetic knowledge today, misdiagnoses such as in the Buck v Bell case (almost a century ago) are highly unlikely to resurface again. Kitcher also identifies problems in laissez-faire eugenics, such as discrimination against the poor lower class on the basis of inability to access genetic health improving techniques for themselves and their children because they lack resources . However, individuals who do possess the extra mobility to exercise their reproductive freedom may not make the best decisions for their children. Laissez-faire eugenics, once widely used, will amplify these social prejudices making it easier to identify undesirable individuals and creating more discrimination. Laissez-faire eugenics is also risky because certain groups will use eugenics as a tool to spread a certain set of social values . These influential groups in society will have the power to impose their beliefs on the rest of the population, making their beliefs the norm. Through his vision of utopian eugenics, Kitcher imagines a perfect society in which reliable genetic knowledge in prenatal testing is available to all citizens enabling aid in developing healthier and happier children with less suffering . He expects citizens in a utopian society to be well educated and knowledgeable in eugenic education to ensure the best decisions. Kitcher's laissez-faire eugenics will grant individual the freedom of choice. Kitcher views that the best combination to unlock the full benefits of genetic advancement is eugenic education . He feels that if individuals become aware and understand the social implications of genetic testing through education, then all citizens will develop a universal respect for all other subgroups within society, ultimately leading to a world with almost no discriminations and prejudices also known as a utopia.

To ensure moral responsibility and ethical decision making in use of genetic information, we must develop a pluralistic view for quality of life . An enlightened individual's thirst for knowledge, a church father's desire for a good soul, a researcher's aspiration for new knowledge and technology, or even an average teenager's value of freedom of self autonomy to do as she wishes are all legitimate...
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