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 2008 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
Related categories

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  1. Eugenics.Mark B. Adams - 2009 - In Vardit Ravitsky, Autumn Fiester & Arthur L. Caplan (eds.), The Penn Center Guide to Bioethics. Springer Publishing Company. pp. 371.
  2. Editing the Genome of the Human Germline: May Cool Heads Prevail.Eli Y. Adashi & I. Glenn Cohen - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (12):40-42.
  3. The Eugenics Society and Social Research.Mourant Ae - 1964 - The Eugenics Review 55 (4):207-209.
  4. Eugenics.Nicholas Agar - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
  5. Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement.Nicholas Agar - 2008 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    In this provocative book, philosopher Nicholas Agar defends the idea that parents should be allowed to enhance their children’s characteristics. Gets away from fears of a Huxleyan ‘Brave New World’ or a return to the fascist eugenics of the past Written from a philosophically and scientifically informed point of view Considers real contemporary cases of parents choosing what kind of child to have Uses ‘moral images’ as a way to get readers with no background in philosophy to think about moral (...)
  6. Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement.Nicholas Agar - 2004 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    In this provocative book, philosopher Nicholas Agar defends the idea that parents should be allowed to enhance their children’s characteristics. Gets away from fears of a Huxleyan ‘Brave New World’ or a return to the fascist eugenics of the past Written from a philosophically and scientifically informed point of view Considers real contemporary cases of parents choosing what kind of child to have Uses ‘moral images’ as a way to get readers with no background in philosophy to think about moral (...)
  7. Liberal Eugenics.Nicholas Agar - 1998 - Public Affairs Quarterly 12 (2):137-155.
  8. Designing Babies: Morally Permissible Ways to Modify the Human Genome1.Nicholas Agar - 1995 - Bioethics 9 (1):1-15.
    My focus in this paper is the question of the moral acceptability of attempts to modify the human genome. Much of the debate in this area has revolved around the distinction between supposedly therapeutic modification on the one hand, and eugenic modification on the other. In the first part of the paper I reject some recent arguments against genetic engineering. In the second part I seek to distinguish between permissible and impermissible forms of intervention in such a way that does (...)
  9. The Debate Over Liberal Eugenics.Nicholas Agar, Dan W. Brock, Paul Lauritzen & Bernard G. Prusak - forthcoming - Hastings Center Report.
  10. Cultural Explanations and Clinical Ethics: Active Euthanasia in Neonatology.A. Ahmad - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (3):192-192.
    The authors have undertaken a study to explore the views in non-Western cultures about ending the lives of newborns with genetic defects. This study consists of including active euthanasia alongside withdrawal and withholding of treatment as potential methods used.Apart from radicalising the support for active euthanasia in certain instances of neonatal diagnoses, is another interesting point that views of children and death are shaped by religion and culture and are especially highly charged with culturally specific symbolism/s. Furthermore, this is augmented (...)
  11. Biology and Ideology From Descartes to Dawkins.Denis R. Alexander & Ronald L. Numbers (eds.) - 2010 - University of Chicago Press.
    Over the course of human history, the sciences, and biology in particular, have often been manipulated to cause immense human suffering. For example, biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and death camps—all in an attempt to support notions of racial superiority. By investigating the past, the contributors to _Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins_ hope to better prepare us to discern ideological abuse of science when it occurs in the future. Denis R. Alexander (...)
  12. Eugenics and Capitalism.F. J. Allaun - 1933 - The Eugenics Review 24 (4):345.
  13. Eugenics and Socialism.F. J. Allaun - 1932 - The Eugenics Review 24 (1):73.
  14. On the History of the International Eugenics Movement.Garland E. Allen - 2013 - Metascience 22 (2):383-386.
  15. “Culling the Herd”: Eugenics and the Conservation Movement in the United States, 1900–1940. [REVIEW]Garland E. Allen - 2013 - Journal of the History of Biology 46 (1):31-72.
    While from a late twentieth- and early twenty-first century perspective, the ideologies of eugenics (controlled reproduction to eliminate the genetically unfit and promote the reproduction of the genetically fit) and environmental conservation and preservation, may seem incompatible, they were promoted simultaneously by a number of figures in the progressive era in the decades between 1900 and 1950. Common to the two movements were the desire to preserve the “best” in both the germ plasm of the human population and natural environments (...)
  16. The Unfit: History of a Bad Idea. (2001) Elof A. Carlson, New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.Garland E. Allen - 2002 - Bioessays 24 (8):765-766.
  17. Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South. Edward J. Larson.Garland E. Allen - 1996 - Isis 87 (4):759-760.
  18. Eugenics and Politics in Britain, 1900-1914. Geoffrey Searle.Garland E. Allen - 1979 - Isis 70 (4):634-635.
  19. Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement by Christine Rosen.Michael E. Allsopp - 2008 - The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 8 (2):396-399.
  20. The Double-Edged Helix Social Implications of Genetics in a Diverse Society.Joseph S. Alper - 2002
  21. The Enemy of Eugenics.David Alton - 2007 - The Chesterton Review 33 (1-2):352-358.
  22. Defending Eugenics.Jonny Anomaly - 2018 - Monash Bioethics Review 35:24-35.
  23. Public Goods and Procreation.Jonny Anomaly - 2014 - Monash Bioethics Review 32 (3-4):172-188.
  24. Race, Genes, and the Ethics of Belief: A Review of Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance. [REVIEW]Jonny Anomaly - 2014 - Hastings Center Report 44 (5):51-52.
  25. Great Minds Think Different: Preserving Cognitive Diversity in an Age of Gene Editing.Jonny Anomaly, Julian Savulescu & Christopher Gyngell - forthcoming - In X. pp. 0-0.
  26. Toward an Ethical Eugenics.Jacob M. Appel - 2012 - Jona’s Healthcare Law, Ethics, and Regulation 14 (1):7-13.
  27. Guaranteeing the Good Life Medicine and the Return of Eugenics.Hadley Arkes & Richard John Neuhaus - 1990
  28. Eugenics in Spain.C. W. Armstrong - 1928 - Eugenics Review 20 (2).
  29. Eugenics and the Rights of Man.C. Wicksteed Armstrong - 1940 - The Eugenics Review 32 (2):70.
  30. Eugenics and the Colonial Question.C. Wicksteed Armstrong - 1938 - The Eugenics Review 29 (4):292.
  31. A Scheme of Practical Eugenics.C. Wicksteed Armstrong - 1938 - The Eugenics Review 30 (3):226.
  32. A Eugenic Colony Abroad: A Proposal for South America.C. Wicksteed Armstrong - 1933 - The Eugenics Review 25 (2):91.
  33. Positive Eugenics in Practice.C. Wicksteed Armstrong - 1931 - The Eugenics Review 23 (2):188.
  34. A Eugenic Register.Charles Wicksteed Armstrong - 1930 - The Eugenics Review 22 (2):155.
  35. Eugenics.Peter Arrupe - 1937 - Thought: Fordham University Quarterly 12 (4):653-665.
  36. Our Genetic Future the Science and Ethics of Genetic Technology.British Medical Association - 1992
  37. Eugenics and Capitalism.W. H. Atherton - 1933 - The Eugenics Review 25 (1):64.
  38. Eugenomics: Eugenics and Ethics in the 21st Century.Julie Aultman - 2006 - Genomics, Society and Policy 2 (2):31-52.
    With a shift from genetics to genomics, the study of organisms in terms of their full DNA sequences, the resurgence of eugenics has taken on a new form. Following from this new form of eugenics, which I have termed “eugenomics”, is a host of ethical and social dilemmas containing elements patterned from controversies over the eugenics movement throughout the 20th century. This paper identifies these ethical and social dilemmas, drawing upon an examination of why eugenics of the 20th century was (...)
  39. How the Difficulties in Teaching Eugenics May Be Overcome.J. H. Badley - 1913 - The Eugenics Review 5 (1):12.
  40. Eugenics: Then and Now.Carl Jay Bajema - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
  41. Eugenics and Individual Phenotypic Variation: To What Extent Is Biology a Predictive Science?Evan Balaban - 1998 - Science in Context 11 (3-4):331 - 356.
    Eugenics, in whatever form it may be articulated, is based on the idea that phenotypic characteristics of particular individuals can be predicted in advance. This paper argues that biology's capacity to predict many of the characteristics exhibited by an individual, especially behavioral or cognitive attributes, will always be very limited. This stems from intrinsic limitations to the methodology for relating genotypes to phenotypes, and from the nature of developmental processes which intervene between genotypes and phenotypes. While genetic studies may generate (...)
  42. Eugenics and the Sunday School Teacher.K. B. Bamfield - 1913 - The Eugenics Review 5 (3):262.
  43. Reevaluating Progressive Eugenics: Herbert Spencer Jennings and the 1924 Immigration Legislation.Elazar Barkan - 1991 - Journal of the History of Biology 24 (1):91 - 112.
  44. Science and Values.Matthew J. Barker - 2015 - Eugenics Archive.
  45. Some Reflections on Eugenics and Religion.E. W. Barnes - 1926 - The Eugenics Review 18 (1):7.
  46. Eugenics in International Affairs.C. E. A. Bedwell - 1922 - The Eugenics Review 14 (3):187.
  47. The Advent of the Genetic Quotient.G. Benichou - 2002 - Diogenes 49 (195):20-26.
  48. On the Inseparability of Gender Eugenics, Ethics, and Public Policy: An Israeli Perspective.Miriam Bentwich - 2013 - American Journal of Bioethics 13 (10):43 - 45.
  49. Nursing, Obedience, and Complicity with Eugenics: A Contextual Interpretation of Nursing Morality at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.M. Berghs - 2006 - Journal of Medical Ethics 32 (2):117-122.
    This paper uses Margaret Urban Walker’s “expressive collaborative” method of moral inquiry to examine and illustrate the morality of nurses in Great Britain from around 1860 to 1915, as well as nursing complicity in one of the first eugenic policies. The authors aim to focus on how context shapes and limits morality and agency in nurses and contributes to a better understanding of debates in nursing ethics both in the past and present.
  50. Eugenetica: piano inclinato e dintorni. Note a margine del libro di Carlo Alberto Defanti.Luca Bertolino - 2014 - Bioetica. Rivista Interdisciplinare 22 (3-4):529-542.
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