Donovan Miyasaki
Wright State University
Ethical debates about liberal eugenics frequently focus on the supposed unnaturalness of its means and its supposed harm to autonomy, an emphasis that leads into irresolvable disputes about human nature, free will, and identity. In this paper I draw on Nietzsche’s work to critique eugenics’ ends rather than its means, as harm to abilities, rather than to autonomy. I first critique subjective eugenics, the selection of extrinsically valuable traits, using Nietzsche’s notion of ‘slavish’ forms of evaluation: values reducible to the negation of another’s good. Subjective eugenics slavishly evaluates traits in comparison to a negatively evaluated norm, disguising an intention to diminish the norm – for example, increasing one child’s intelligence by relatively decreasing everyone else’s. Even seemingly non-comparative selection of traits like eye color depend on negative comparison. Valued either for rarity or group identity, they devalue norm in its commonness or difference. Next, I argue there is no objective form of eugenics on the Nietzschean grounds that abilities are not valuable intrinsically, but only given the power to exercise them. Abilities frustrated by conflict with other abilities or one’s environment are harmful, while disabilities that empower one’s other abilities are beneficial. Consequently, all supposedly objective forms of eugenics are subject to the previous ethical critique of subjective eugenics. Because, like evolutionary fitness, the complementary fit of traits and environment that produces power is accidental and unpredictable, human wellbeing is maximized through the conservation of a diversity of types, rather than through active improvement.
Keywords Nietzsche  Eugenics  Bioethics  Naturalism  Medical Ethics  Disability  Enhancement
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
200 ( #54,184 of 2,462,487 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #223,367 of 2,462,487 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes