How Do We Develop Our Ethical Positions on Eugenic Actions

Alexander Washburn
How do we develop our ethical positions on eugenic actions?
Just over a century and a half ago Charles Darwin published his timeless book The Origin
of Species in which he discussed his theory of natural selection and a paradigm of hereditary
progress known as evolution. Since his theories were published much controversy has arose over
their validity and application. One application that has emerged is the concept of eugenics.
Eugenics is defined as “The study of methods of improving the quality of the human race,
especially by selective breeding” (Collins). Eugenics application consists of allowing human
intellect, rather than the environmental forces of natural selection, to guide the course of human
evolution. In the past eugenics applications have been bias toward ethnicity as desirable traits
and have left the field of study a taboo. Now with the study of genetics and the completion of
the human genome project, forms of potentially helpful medical research and treatment, both to
the individual and the community, are sometimes viewed as unethical. If we as a species wish to
use our knowledge to advance ourselves forward we need to critically evaluate the ethical
boundaries of eugenic applications now possible with emerging technologies. An analysis is
needed of how we develop our ethical positions on eugenic actions.
Many ethical conflicts occur over eugenics. A simple way to understand some of the
ethical issues regarding eugenics is to look at specific applications. Pregnancy termination based
upon genetics screening, predictive genetic screening for hereditary health problems, DNA
databases, euthanasia, and forced sterilization are some of the applications of eugenics at have
raised ethical questions. Each of these applications hold lucrative benefits of a eliminating
genetic diseases, significantly reducing medical expenses, reducing crime, improving
productivity, and accelerating evolution respectively. As alluring...