By Wesley J. Smith
Eugenics is evil in that it presumes that some human beings are better than others, and moreover, that we have a duty to control procreation to improve the human herd. In the USA, the first iteration of this great wrong–a political progressive project, by the way–led to hundreds of thousands of involuntary sterilizations. Not coincidentally, North Carolina will be compensating living victims.
Eugenics came into disfavor after World War II, and for obvious reasons. But like a zombie, it is back in a new high tech form. Today’s eugenicists don’t talk about eradicating the human “weeds,” like Margaret Sanger did. Rather, they dream of using biotech to genetically enhance children. It’s all an Übermenschen project–and very dangerous to the moral foundation of society based on universal human equality.
Now, two Oxford (of course!) bioethicists argue in favor of enhancing progeny to benefit society in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, in addition to enhancing for the supposed wellbeing of the child. (I always say that if you want to know what could go wrong next in society, read the professional journals.) From, “Procreative Altruism: Beyond Individualism in Reproductive Selection,” by Thomas Douglas and Katrien Devolder:
Some may object to our two-principle model on the ground that it—or at least one element in it (Procreative Altruism)—implies that parents should use their future child as a means to promoting the good of others. The two-principle model could instruct parents to select children with traits that restrict the well-being of the future child, because doing so will promote the well-being of others. This may seem to be an objectionable form of exploitation or instrumentalization.
Yes. But not to worry.
Importantly, however, the two-principle model does not imply that parents should treat their future child merely as a means to promoting the good of others. Indeed, it requires that parents give some weight to the well-being of the future child. It does stipulate that other ends also play a role in reproductive decision making. But this seems appropriate. It is not clear why the well-being of the future child should be allowed to monopolize reproductive decision making.
What’s love got to do with it? The word is not used one time in the entire article! Telling, no?
The authors worry about a “slippery slope to immoral eugenics.” This is immoral eugenics. Its purposes are the same, its tools just more sophisticated.
And if you can select children “in” for altruistic reasons, it wouldn’t be long before you could be forced to select them “out”–as currently happens in China’s one-child policy, for example.
The old eugenics was promoted from the top, down–that is from the intelligentsia and academic elite. Ditto the new eugenics. But wrong is wrong, no matter the century.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s blog.