Contemporary Forms of Eugenics

eLS Wiley Online (2017)
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Abstract

Eugenics is commonly thought of as having endured as science and social movement only until 1945. With the advance of both reproductive and enhancement technologies, however, concern has arisen that eugenics has resurfaced in new forms. In particular, the eugenic potential of the Human Genome Project led to talk of the rise of ‘newgenics’ and of a backdoor to eugenics. This article focuses on such concerns deriving from the practice of prenatal screening and technologies that increase our ability to generate information about the kinds of children we are likely to have. Given individual preferences and social norms concerning what traits are intergenerationally desirable, how should we act and what practices and policies should we endorse or scrutinise? This article will concentrate on key components of eugenic thinking present today and emphasise continuities between the eugenic past and new- genic present in the subhumanisation of people with cognitive or intellectual disabilities.

Author's Profile

Robert A. Wilson
University of Western Australia

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