About this topic
Summary According to the third edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1965) the adjective "eugenic" means "pertaining or adopted to the production of fine offspring". This is the "thin", abstract meaning of "eugenic", which carries no moral or historical connotation. In this sense, the ante-natal selection of the genetic characteristics of living beings (genetic selection) and its improvement (gene-therapy or genetic enhancement) all qualify as forms of eugenics. The word is used in this morally neutral way by contemporary proponents of "liberal eugenics". However, the word "Eugenics" may also refer to the core ideas of Francis Galton (who invented the word) and his immediate followers; or to the specific policies adopted mainly in Europe and in the United States, roughly from the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of WW2. Because such policies, including forced sterilization in US and Nazi Germany, are nowadays widely regarded as immoral, the term "eugenics" is often intended as having an intrinsic negative connotation. For that reason, some authors reject "eugenic talk" and the identification of human genetic enhancement and eugenics. This category includes works on both early eugenics and comparisons between early eugenics, traditional eugenic themes, and liberal eugenics.     
Key works

Harris 1993 argues that even if gene-therapy for removing disability or for enhancing normal human traits is a form of eugenics,  it is morally sound. He identifies the morally unsound aspect of eugenics with the idea that "those who are genetically weak should be discouraged from reproducing". He objects that eugenics properly understood maintains that "everyone should be discouraged from reproducing children who will be significantly harmed by their genetic constitution". Thus, eugenics through gene-therapy is morally sound because, unlike past eugenics, it might "enable individuals with genetic defects to be sure of having healthy rather than harmed children".  Wikler 1999 provides a short history of eugenic movements and argues that we must learn from it, for instance by avoiding genetic determinism, class and race biases and the conviction that genetic improvement overrides the freedom of the individual whether and with whom to procreate. Wikler tries to identify the "original sin" in Eugenics, which leads him to analyze and discard many usual objections against it. Agar 2004 is important as perhaps the first book that uses the expression "eugenics" with a positive connotation coherently throughout. Agar endorses eugenics achieved by parents in a society which respects reproductive liberties since, unlike traditional eugenics, it is compatible with a pluralism of different conceptions about human flourishing.Savulescu 2001 argues that couples or single reproducers have a prima facie moral duty to select the embryo with the best life prospects,  selecting against harmful genetic susceptibilities and in favor of beneficial ones. Wilkinson 2010 rejects the identification of "eugenics" and moral claims made in the context of the bioethical debate concerning pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and screening. He claims that it is wrong to the emotional power of "eugenic talk" to bypass rational critical faculties.

Introductions Harris 1993 Chadwick 2001 Wikler 1999 Wilkinson 2008 Buchanan 2007
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672 found
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  1. Eugénisme.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Dans la définition de l'eugénisme, il est très difficile d'établir une distinction claire entre la science (médecine, génie génétique) et l'eugénisme. Et de définir une ligne de conduite sur laquelle l'ingénierie génétique ne devrait pas aller, conformément aux normes morales, juridiques et religieuses. Tant que nous acceptons l'aide de la génétique pour trouver des moyens de lutter contre le cancer, le diabète ou le VIH, nous acceptons également l'eugénisme positif tel qu'il est actuellement. Et tant que nous acceptons le dépistage (...)
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  2. Évolution et éthique de l'eugénisme.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Étant donné la définition de l'eugénisme, il est très difficile d'établir une distinction claire entre la science (médecine, ingénierie génétique) et l'eugénisme en tant que domaine inclus. Et pour définir une ligne sur laquelle l'ingénierie génétique ne devrait pas aller plus loin, conformément aux normes morales, juridiques et religieuses. Si nous acceptons l'aide de la génétique pour trouver des moyens de lutter contre le cancer, le diabète ou le VIH, nous acceptons également l'eugénisme positif tel qu'il est défini à présent. (...)
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  3. Istoria eugeniei.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Sir Francis Galton a sistematizat aceste idei și practici, influențat de cartea Originea Speciilor a vărului lui, Charles Darwin, prin care mecanismele de selecție naturală au fost potențial zădărnicite de civilizația umană. El a afirmat că societatea umană, protejând pe cei defavorizați și slabi, era în contradicție cu selecția naturală , și numai prin schimbarea acestor politici sociale ar putea fi salvată societatea de la o "revenirea spre mediocritate", frază transformată de el ulterior în "regresia spre mediocritatea." Charles Davenport, un (...)
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  4. Eugenia actuală.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Începând din anii 1980, ingineria genetică a fost folosită pe scară largă pentru a modifica genetic organisme și alimente. Practica testelor genetice prenatale identifică gene sau markeri genetici nedorite. Părinții potențiali pot alege să continue sarcina sau să renunțe la făt. Odată cu apariția diagnosticului genetic de preimplantare, părinții potențiali pot alege să utilizeze fertilizarea in vitro și apoi să testeze celulele timpurii ale embrionilor creați pentru a identifica embrionii cu gene pe care le preferă sau pe care să le (...)
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  5. L'eugénisme contemporain.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Depuis les années 1980, le génie génétique a été largement utilisé pour modifier génétiquement des organismes et des aliments. La pratique des tests génétiques prénataux identifie des gènes ou des marqueurs génétiques indésirables. Les parents peuvent choisir de poursuivre leur grossesse ou d'abandonner le bébé. Une fois le diagnostic génétique préimplantatoire réalisé, les parents potentiels peuvent choisir de recourir à la fécondation in vitro, puis de tester les cellules embryonnaires précoces pour identifier les embryons avec les gènes qu’ils préfèrent, ou (...)
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  6. Evolution and Ethics of Eugenics.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    As eugenics is defined, it is very difficult to make a clear distinction between science (medicine, genetic engineering) and eugenics as a included field. And to set a line over which genetic engineering should not go further, according to moral, legal and religious norms. If we accept the help of genetics in finding ways to fight cancer, diabetes, or HIV, we also accept positive eugenics as they are defined now. And if we accept genetic screening, and interventions on the unborn (...)
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  7. L'éthique et l'avenir de l'eugénisme.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Les arguments concernant la sagesse de la poursuite des expérimentations génétiques et des effets eugéniques possibles du génie génétique se retrouvent généralement dans trois domaines : l'éthique biomédicale, la moralité, et la religion et le droit. L'utilisation potentielle du génie génétique a mis en discussion l'eugénisme dans le passé dans les litiges de bioéthique. Le séquençage du génome humain peut nous aider dans l'évolution humaine. Le projet sur le génome humain peut nous aider à comprendre les maladies afin d'orienter les (...)
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  8. Evolution de l'eugénisme jusqu'à la seconde guerre mondiale.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Sir Francis Galton a systématisé les idées et pratiques de l'eugenisme, influencées par le livre L'origine des espèces de son cousin, Charles Darwin, par lesquelles les mécanismes de sélection naturels étaient potentiellement déjoués par la civilisation humaine. Il a affirmé que la société humaine, protégeant les plus défavorisés et les plus faibles, était en contradiction avec la sélection naturelle, et que seule une modification de ces politiques sociales permettrait à la société d'être sauvée d'un « retour à la médiocrité », (...)
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  9. The Future of Eugenics.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    A "free-market" approach to the genetic development of children may result in a homogenising. Parents may be inclined to choose according to models accepted by society. In this case, improving technologies will "will grant racism and homophobia an unprecedented efficacy." One concern about the obligation to produce the best child in a particular society is that social norms may be discriminatory, so that in the end, for example, most children will be boys, extremists and heterosexuals. The sequencing of the human (...)
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  10. Etica eugeniei.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Argumentele referitoare la înțelepciunea continuării experimentării genetice și posibilele efecte eugenice ale ingineriei genetice se încadrează în general în trei domenii: etica biomedicală, moralitatea și religia și legea. Utilizarea potențială a ingineriei genetice a readus în discuții eugenia din trecut în disputele despre bioetică. Există opinii conform cărora și programele de eugenie fără caracter coercitiv ar fi în mod inerent lipsite de etică. Principiul moral central al eticii biomedicale implică o obligație de a conferi beneficii și de a elimina daunele. (...)
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  11. Ce este eugenia?Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Termenul eugenie, ca practică și domeniu de studiu, a fost inventat către Francis Galton în 1883, bazându-se pe opera vărului său, Charles Darwin, genetica mendeliană și teoriile lui August Weismann (teoria plasmei germenilor, conform căreia informația ereditară este transmisă numai de celulele germinale din gonade (ovare și testicule), nu de celule somatice) . Galton a definit eugenismul drept "studiul tuturor agenților aflați sub control uman care pot îmbunătăți sau afecta calitatea rasială a generațiilor viitoare". Eugenia a fost descrisă ulterior ca (...)
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  12. The New (Liberal) Eugenics.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Despite the Nazi horrors, in 1953 the new eugenics was founded, when Watson and Crick postulated the double helix of DNA as the basis of chemical heredity. In 1961, scientists have deciphered the genetic code of DNA, laying the groundwork for code manipulation and the potential building of new life forms. After thirty years from the discovery of the DNA structure, the experimenters began to carry out the first clinical studies of human somatic cell therapy. The practice of prenatal genetic (...)
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  13. Evoluția și etica eugeniei.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    În acest articol încerc să argumentez opinia că, așa cum este definită eugenia, este foarte dificil de făcut o diferențiere clară între știință (medicină, ingineria genetică) și eugenie. Și de stabilit o linie peste care ingineria genetică nu ar trebui să treacă, conform unor norme morale, juridice și religioase. Atâta timp cât acceptăm ajutorul geneticii în găsirea unor modalități de combatere a cancerului, diabetului sau HIV, acceptăm în mod implicit și eugenia pozitivă, conform definiției actuale. Și atâta timp cât acceptăm (...)
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  14. Eugenics.Nicolae Sfetcu -
    The main concern of the first eugenists, such as Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon of University College London , were the perceived intelligence factors considered to be correlated with the social class. In his speech "Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics", Karl Pearson equates eugenics with a field of medicine. Some areas of medicine that are not commonly recognized as eugenic affect the human genes background. These include sterilization and surgical techniques that allow the functioning of reproductive organs. Even medicines that (...)
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  15. Genetics, Eugenics and the Future: A Critique of Philip Kitcher's Utopian Eugenics.Mark Blocher - unknown - Proceedings of the Heraclitean Society 19.
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  16. The Debate Over Liberal Eugenics.Nicholas Agar, Dan W. Brock, Paul Lauritzen & Bernard G. Prusak - forthcoming - Hastings Center Report.
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  17. Eugenics: Then and Now.Carl Jay Bajema - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
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  18. Reproductive Carrier Screening: Responding to the Eugenics Critique.Lisa Dive & Ainsley J. Newson - forthcoming - Journal of Medical Ethics:medethics-2021-107343.
    Reproductive genetic carrier screening, when offered to anyone regardless of their family history or ancestry, has been subject to the critique that it is a form of eugenics. Eugenics describes a range of practices that seek to use the science of heredity to improve the genetic composition of a population group. The term is associated with a range of unethical programmes that were taken up in various countries during the 20th century. Contemporary practice in medical genetics has, understandably, distanced itself (...)
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  19. China and Eugenics-Preliminary Remarks Concerning the Structure and Impact of a Problem of International Bioethics.Ole Doering - forthcoming - Bioethics in Asia.
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  20. What Sort of People Should There Be?Jonathan Glover - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
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  21. Lock Out'Back Door Eugenics.'.David Magnus - forthcoming - Penn Bioethics, 3 (1).
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  22. Eugenics: The Scrence and Religron of the Nazis.Benno Miiller-Hill - forthcoming - Paper Pre Sented at Conference on ‘the Meanmg of the Holocaust for Bioethics,” Minneapo Lrs, May.
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  23. Nietzsche’s Naturalist Morality of Breeding: A Critique of Eugenics as Taming.Donovan Miyasaki - forthcoming - In Vanessa Lemm (ed.), Nietzsche and the Becoming of Life. Fordham.
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  24. 4 the Eugenics Review.Mr Osborn & Mr Bloomfield - forthcoming - Eugenics Review.
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  25. Eugenics, Disability, and Bioethics.Robert A. Wilson - forthcoming - In Joel Reynolds & Christine Weiseler (eds.), The Disability Bioethics Reader. New York, NY, USA:
    This paper begins by saying enough about eugenics to explain why disability is central to eugenics (section 2), then elaborates on why cognitive disability has played and continues to play a special role in eugenics and in thinking about moral status (section 3) before identifying three reasons why eugenics remains a live issue in contemporary bioethics (section 4). After a reminder of the connections between Nazi eugenics, medicine, and bioethics (section 5), it returns to take up two more specific clusters (...)
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  26. Race, Eugenics, and the Holocaust.Jonathan Anomaly - 2022 - In Ira Bedzow & Stacy Gallin (eds.), Bioethics and the Holocaust. Springer.
  27. Reinventing Expertise in the History of Psychiatry and Eugenics.Erika Dyck - 2022 - Spontaneous Generations 10 (1):107-112.
    This reflection piece considers how expertise has been generated within the history of madness, disability, eugenics, psychiatry and anti-psychiatry. As numerous scholars and critics have pointed out, the power of rational argumentation can be persuasive, while its absence can be pathologized. Yet, in the fields of madness studies and critical disability studies we can see many examples of how the dividing line between normal and pathological states have been contested, especially where those categories correspond with notions of expertise, experience, and (...)
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  28. The Norwegian Association for Heredity Research and the Organized International Eugenics Movement. Expertise, Authority, Transnational Networks and International Organization in Norwegian Genetics and Eugenics.Jon Røyne Kyllingstad - 2022 - Perspectives on Science 30 (1):77-107.
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  29. Eugenics or Not, Prenatal Genetic Testing’s Common Issues Need to Be Addressed.Mark W. Leach - 2022 - In Megan A. Allyse & Marsha Michie (eds.), Born Well: Prenatal Genetics and the Future of Having Children. Springer Verlag. pp. 33-44.
    Critiques of prenatal genetic testing as eugenic have been debated for decades, but this strident debate can obscure ways in which persistent eugenic aspects of prenatal genetic testing can and should be addressed. Comparing arguments and professional guidelines regarding prenatal testing for genetic conditions with those regarding sex selection can provide useful insights into the ways prenatal genetic testing is offered by clinicians and administered by government programs. This chapter addresses the predominant funding models for prenatal genetic testing and ways (...)
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  30. “We Who Champion the Unborn”: Racial Poisons, Eugenics, and the Campaign for Prohibition.Paul A. Lombardo - 2022 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 50 (1):124-138.
    Dr. Caleb Williams Saleeby was the author of Parenthood and Race Culture, one of the first monographs on eugenics and the book that popularized the term “racial poison.” The goal of eradicating the racial poisons and the harm they caused — particularly infant morbidity and mortality — provided common ground for early 20th century reformers, and their concerns fed the growing support for legal prohibition of alcohol.
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  31. Eugenics and Photography in Britain, the USA and Australia 1870–1940.Anne Maxwell - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 92:71-85.
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  32. L'intelligenza tra natura e cultura.Davide Serpico - 2022 - Turin: Rosenberg & Sellier.
    ENG: We all have our own ideas about what it is like to be intelligent. Indeed, even the experts disagree on this topic. This has generated diverse theories on the nature of intelligence and its genetic and environmental bases. Many scientific and philosophical questions thus remain unaddressed: is it possible to characterize intelligence in scientific terms? What do IQ tests measure? How is intelligence influenced by genetics, epigenetics, and the environment? What are the ethical and social implications of the research (...)
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  33. Uterus Collectors: The Case for Reproductive Justice for African American, Native American, and Hispanic American Female Victims of Eugenics Programs in the United States.Eric D. Smaw - 2022 - Bioethics 36 (3):318-327.
    Bioethics, Volume 36, Issue 3, Page 318-327, March 2022.
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  34. Aesthetics in the Eugenics Movement: A Critical Examination.Peter J. Woods - 2022 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 56 (2):56-77.
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  35. R.A. Fisher, Eugenics, and the Campaign for Family Allowances in Interwar Britain.Alex Aylward - 2021 - British Journal for the History of Science 54 (4):485-505.
    Ronald Aylmer Fisher is today remembered as a giant of twentieth-century statistics, genetics and evolutionary theory. Alongside his influential scientific contributions, he was also, throughout the interwar years, a prominent figure within Britain's eugenics movement. This essay provides a close examination of his eugenical ideas and activities, focusing particularly upon his energetic advocacy of family allowances, which he hoped would boost eugenic births within the more ‘desirable’ middle and upper classes. Fisher's proposals, which were grounded in his distinctive explanation for (...)
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  36. Paul-André Rosental. A Human Garden: French Policy and the Transatlantic Legacies of Eugenic Experimentation. Translated by Carolyn Avery. Foreword by Theodore M. Porter. (Berghahn Monographs in French Studies, 16.) 248 Pp., Illus., Bibl., Index. New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2019. $135 (Cloth); ISBN 9781789205435. E-Book Available. [REVIEW]Alice L. Conklin - 2021 - Isis 112 (1):206-207.
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  37. Can ‘Eugenics’ Be Defended?Francesca Minerva, Diana S. Fleischman, Peter Singer, Nicholas Agar, Jonathan Anomaly & Walter Veit - 2021 - Monash Bioethics Review 39 (1):60-67.
  38. A Nietzschean Critique of Liberal Eugenics.Donovan Miyasaki - 2021 - Journal of Medical Ethics.
    Ethical debates about liberal eugenics frequently focus on the supposed unnaturalness of its means and possible harm to autonomy. I present a Nietzsche-inspired critique focusing on intention rather than means and harm to abilities rather than to autonomy. I first critique subjective eugenics, the selection of extrinsically valuable traits, drawing on Nietzsche’s notion of ‘slavish’ values reducible to the negation of another’s good. Subjective eugenics slavishly evaluates traits relative to a negatively evaluated norm (eg, above-average intelligence), disguising a harmful intention (...)
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  39. Technologies of Reproduction: Race, Disability, and Neoliberal Eugenics.Desiree Valentine - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy of Disability 1:35-55.
    When considering the relation between race, disability, and reproduction, race and disability tend to figure as outcomes of reproduction. It is assumed that one births a child with a certain race and ability status as a function of biological and genetic processes. This paper shifts such analyses of race and disability in the context of contemporary reproduction to examine how race and disability are not only produced but are productive. Building on recent work describing race as a technology emergent in (...)
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  40. Eugenics Offended.Robert A. Wilson - 2021 - Monash Bioethics Review 39 (2):169-176.
    This commentary continues an exchange on eugenics in Monash Bioethics Review between Anomaly (2018), Wilson (2019), and Veit, Anomaly, Agar, Singer, Fleischman, and Minerva (2021). The eponymous question, “Can ‘Eugenics’ be Defended?”, is multiply ambiguous and does not receive a clear answer from Veit et al.. Despite their stated desire to move beyond mere semantics to matters of substance, Veit et al. concentrate on several uses of the term “eugenics” that pull in opposite directions. I argue, first, that Veit et (...)
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  41. Dehumanization, Disability, and Eugenics.Robert A. Wilson - 2021 - In Maria Kronfeldner (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization. New York, NY, USA: pp. 173-186.
    This paper explores the relationship between eugenics, disability, and dehumanization, with a focus on forms of eugenics beyond Nazi eugenics.
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  42. Creating Future People: The Ethics of Genetic Enhancement.Jonathan Anomaly - 2020 - London, UK: Routledge.
    Creating Future People offers readers a fast-paced primer on how new genetic technologies will enable parents to influence the traits of their children, including their intelligence, moral capacities, physical appearance, and immune system. It deftly explains the science of gene editing and embryo selection, and raises the central moral questions with colorful language and a brisk style. Jonathan Anomaly takes seriously the diversity of preferences parents have, and the limits of public policy in regulating what could soon be a global (...)
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  43. Cognitive Enhancement and Network Effects: How Individual Prosperity Depends on Group Traits.Jonathan Anomaly & Garett Jones - 2020 - Philosophia 48:1753-1768.
  44. Great Minds Think Different: Preserving Cognitive Diversity in an Age of Gene Editing.Jonny Anomaly, Julian Savulescu & Christopher Gyngell - 2020 - Bioethics 34 (1):81-89.
  45. Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing.Donna Dickenson - 2020 - The New Bioethics 26 (1):75-77.
    Review of Francoise Baylis, Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing (2019).
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  46. Race, Technology, and Posthumanism.Holly Flint Jones & Nicholaos Jones - 2020 - In Mads Rosenthal Thomsen & Jacob Wamberg (eds.), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 161-170.
    This chapter briefly reviews the role of race (as a concept) in the history of theorizing the posthuman, engages with existing discussions of race as technology, and explores the significance of understanding race as technology for the field of posthumanism. Our aim is to engage existing literature that posits racialized individuals as posthumans and to consider how studying race might inform theories of the posthuman.
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  47. Prologue: Eugenics and its Study.Robert A. Wilson - 2020 - In Frank Stahnisch & Erna Kurbegovic (eds.), Exploring the Relationship of Eugenics and Psychiatry: Canadian and Trans-Atlantic Perspectives 1905 – 1972. Athabasca University Press.
    This is the prologue to a collection of essays on eugenics and psychiatry.
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  48. Looking Back to Look Forward: Disability, Philosophers, and Activism.Robert A. Wilson - 2020 - Diversity and Inclusion Section, APA Blog.
    How have and how might philosophers contribute to linking disability and activism in these peri-COVID-19 times, especially in forms of public engagement that go beyond podcasted talks and articles aimed at a public audience? How do we harness philosophical thinking to contribute positively to those living with disability whose vulnerabilities are heightened by this pandemic and the ableism highlighted by collective responses to it?
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  49. Genome Editing: Slipping Down Toward Eugenics?Davide Battisti - 2019 - Medicina Historica 3 (3):206-218.
    In this paper, I will present the empirical version of the slippery slope argument (SSA) in the field of genome editing. According to the SSA, if we adopt germline manipulation of embryos we will eventually end up performing or allowing something morally reprehensible, such as new coercive eugenics. I will investigate the actual possibility of sliding towards eugenics: thus, I will examine enhancement and eugenics both in the classical and liberal versions, through the lens of SSA. In the first part, (...)
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  50. The Trust Game CRISPR for Human Germline Editing Unsettles Scientists and Society.Matthias Braun & Darian Meacham - 2019 - EMBO Reports 20 (2).
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