Liberalism and eugenics

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):499 - 517 (2011)
‘Liberal eugenics’ has emerged as the most popular position amongst philosophers writing in the contemporary debate about the ethics of human enhancement. This position has been most clearly articulated by Nicholas Agar, who argues that the ‘new’ liberal eugenics can avoid the repugnant consequences associated with eugenics in the past. Agar suggests that parents should be free to make only those interventions into the genetics of their children that will benefit them no matter what way of life they grow up to endorse. I argue that Agar's attempt to distinguish the new from the old eugenics fails. Once we start to consciously determine the genetics of future persons, we will not be able to avoid controversial assumptions about the relative worth of different life plans. Liberal eugenicists therefore confront the horns of a dilemma. Whichever way they try to resolve it, the consequences of widespread use of technologies of genetic selection are likely to look more like the old eugenics than defenders of the new eugenics have acknowledged
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2010.484464
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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.

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