T Nation

Eugenics, for or Against?


A controversial title I guess. I was thinking about the current advances in fertility medicine, that allow you to choose sex, eye colour, hair colour and to screen for genetic diseases. It is not a great leap in thought to realise that we will soon have the technology that will allow us to select even more than this in our offspring, intelligence, attractiveness, muscle mass and the list goes on.

I am currently undecided as to my moral position on this. On the one hand, I think where is the harm in this? Things like eye and hair colour are trivial. With regard to sex, again on the one hand I think it is ok, but then I think this is largely culture specific. In other societies where male children are prized more than females, this is obviously going to be abused.

When it comes to diseases, regardless of whether I think it is right or wrong to alter our genetics in this way, I know that for a fact if a doctor said to me "concieve in this way, and we will guarantee your child is healthy and disease free" I would do it.

This is the tip of the iceberg though, since as our genetic technology level increases, there will come a point where we can give our offspring, almost superhuman abilities and characteristics. You only have to look at the physical charactistics of a belgian blue bull to imagine what will be possible. Where do we draw the line here? Again, if given the choice of being able to bestow on my offspring superhuman characteristics, I would say yes, I think?

Discuss, and please, lets keep religion and god out of it. We have to decide what is right and wrong for ourselves on this one since last time I checked, no major religous text has a chapter on genetic engineering.


In the beginning..... Ok, won't go there. All I know is Gattaca was a fantastic movie, and I'd want my future generations of biglifters to have > 1,000 lb deadlifts.


Look at the end results of eugenics and you should have your answer.


Wait...you want people to keep religion and God out of it? Why? Because this sounds like some fucking Nazi shit, "God doesn't exist" and let's build the Master Race. You sure you're name is not Alffi?

Either way, I am against eugenics because even though it might produce a baby in "good" health, you subsequently kill innocent lives.

And, guess what eugenics was a big part of Hitler's National Socialism, look at it what it got them...millions of people dead, no thanks.


Very, very touchy subject.
18th/19th century eugenics was about getting rid of blacks and those deemed unacceptable. Then as Brother Chris mentioned about the Nazi dream of the Ubermensch.
I think for diseases it would be appropriate to secure the health of your child. This is probably contradictory to say, but I don't have anything against 'disabled' people, but like Massive said, if I had the choice between my kid being born free of disease or 'risking' it, the choice is obvious.
I have a book called Genetic Armageddon and it goes into this subject a little bit.
It talked about how there was the possiblity that the 'new' humans would deem the old humans inferior and 'natural select' them out of reproducing(ie get rid of them or let them die out or....)
For anyone interested


So...what you're saying is that you'd rather kill two or three of your kids so, you know one of them can be perfect genetic wise? Still sounds like a lead into Nationalism.


The nazis practiced negative eugenics, they actively wanted to exterminate other races not in line with their ideals. This is obviously abhorrent and is not what is being discussed. The type of eugenics being discussed is the positive kind. This already occurs to some degree in current infertility treatment practices. Embryos are often screened for genetic diseases before implantation.

Could you clarify exactly what you mean about killing innocent lives? It does not make sense applied to this practice.

The reason I asked that we keep religion out of it is the fact that all religious arguments boil down to the same premise, faith that your answer is correct one. This is not productive and will likely derail the thread. I am not wholly against people having religious reasons for being opposed to something, its just not good for debate.


Don't put words in my mouth Chris. I never said anything about 'killing my kids' until the perfect one came along. What I said was given the choice between giving one the best genetic profile or not, I would choose the former. Nowhere did I say I would keep going thru it until 'those scientists finally got it right'.
If the technology wasn't 100% consistently repeatable then what would be the point?

This reminds me of a movie or show I saw, but I can't remember the title. Might have been Outer Limits or something, but the 'genetic rejects' were like horrible mutants that were hunted down and stuff.


No one is proposing killing kids. An embryo is not a child. And remember, the fact that embryos are selected in this way will not necessarily be true in the future as technology advances.

In IVF treatment, the best embryos have to be selected based on other criteria as well, to give maximum chance of implantation. Does this mean that you think that IVF treatments are already "murdering children" by selecting the best candidates and should be stopped?


It's a great idea.

It's a shame we are too immature and superstitious for it.


Yes, and that is why I find both practices abhorrent and crimes against humanity. There is no such thing as "positive" eugenics, you are killing humans, sometimes multiple humans in order to screen for genetics not in line with your ideals and only allowing those with your supposed idea of "superior" genetics. You can rename it all you want, it is the same thing...killing innocent humans.

You are destroying embryos or tossing them out when they do not meet your genetic requirements, sounds like exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews and other Europeans.

Well you can breath easy, my argument is based in reason and morals, specifically Natural Law. Natural Law, which, came from Aristotle and exemplified by Aquinas. See...two philosophers who are accepted by secular and nonsecular or theist and atheist people alike as having credible and rational philosophical arguments in the matters of morals.

I am not a fundamentalist, sir.

And, I would also like to point out that faith goes both ways, faith in reason and faith in dogma and doctrine are both reasonable; however, as a Catholic I have more faith in dogmas and doctrine more than man's weak intellect. But, I digress. I will stick to reason and morals in this debate.


Doesn't matter, if you have two embryos and you are able to replace imperfect genetics with those of the other embryo and then the other embryo becomes destroyed and thrown away, you have killed an innocent life.

And, if you are waiting for them to be a 100% consistent, it'll never happen. Nothing works 100% of the time.


You are not purposing to kill humans? Interesting, because last time I checked embryos were living humans.

Yes they are, and I think IVF is an immoral act, as well as, the rest of the eugenics movement.


From my (lack of) understanding, I took this conversation of eugenics to mean that the genetic code that we possess would be written without error(s), not throwing out embryos.


I've never heard of that (it might be my lack of understanding), but that still begs the question, how do you do it without corrupting the marital act?


Afaik, we're talking science fiction atm, again b/c afaik this isn't happening, and I'm an idealist.
Marital act=sex, right?
If so, I was wondering that too. The way I would see that being possible is if the fetus' genetic code was somehow guided throughout the pregnancy. Sort of like in Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. To alter a virus that was killing everyone, they reconstructed its DNA, so it could still exist but wouldn't be killing everyone.

edit: changed fantasy to science fiction


While eugenics sounds great in theory, history teaches us that every time man has tried to play God, he always fails. That is why God is God, and man is man.


For, but not in the sense you describe it. I welcome the opportunity to screen out genetic diseases, but I don't think we have the knowledge (yet) to say what is and isn't a genetic shortcoming. Eugenics will only have its place when we shed ourselves of the stupidity and superstition that would otherwise lead it to be abused.

Designer babies? No.

Eliminate diseases like Huntington's? Yes.


My worry is that only the richest will be able to afford it thus creating more of a caste system than there already is.


Bad idea. Let nature take its course.