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Eugenics And Genetic Testing Essay

1896 words - 8 pages

The history of harmful eugenic practices, spurring from the Nazi implementations of discrimination towards biologically inferior people has given eugenics a negative stigma (1,Kitcher, 190). Genetic testing, as Kitcher sees it through a minimalistic perspective, should be restrained to aiding future children with extremely low qualities of life (2,Kitcher, 190). He believes that genetic engineering should only be used to avoid disease and illness serving the role of creating a healthier human race. He promotes laissez-faire eugenics, a “hands off” concept that corresponds to three components of eugenic practice, discrimination, coercion and division of traits. It holds the underlying works ...view middle of the document...

By providing reliable prenatal testing information to all citizens there will be no societal imposed restrictions on individual decisions. Kitcher argues that decisions should be built on the characteristics of an individual, because preventing disease has more to do with individual objection than social values (6,Kitcher, 204). This removes all superficial discrimination of social prejudice, such as pregnancy termination based on homosexuality or gender (7,Kitcher, 218). Deciding which prenatal testing or molecular intervention is acceptable requires an understanding on how it affects the quality of future lives (8,Kitcher, 216). Principled restriction of the use of biomedical technology is used to distinguish proper medical application from abuse and social prejudice. Kitcher believes prenatal testing and selective termination should only be implemented in cases where degeneration is guaranteed (9,Kitcher, 212). While Laissez-faire eugenics allows the freedom to choose what traits to define and erase, Utopian eugenics proposes an influence to foster individual, not social values.
To find the moral scope that utopian eugenics demands Kitcher suggests that the focus shouldn’t be on the concept of disease but rather on promoting the quality of life (10,Kitcher, 218). In order to evaluate a future child’s quality of life Kitcher recognizes the relationship between a child’s genotype and environment. He stresses the importance of a societies ability to support the needs of a disabled child, and the complications involved (11,Kitcher, 218). Disorders such as Hurler syndrome, characterized by stunted development, inexorable cognitive deterioration and premature death usually imply a low quality of life. In a constructionist world societal influence will make it hard for those with genetic diseases to succeed on the basis that the society that they live in do not accept children with these conditions well. But how is quality of life measured? Kitcher believes that the quality of life isn’t only determined by the amount of happiness or regret, human lives need to be seen through the perspective of the individual. Quality of life is determined by the individual’s ability to form a sense of what matters, and develop goals to aspire towards (12,Kitcher, 287). Genetic disorders can hinder the quality of life by challenging the ability to develop or accomplish these goals. However by drawing goals within allotted limitations they may find satisfaction from overcoming obstacles (regardless of difficulty) that are meaningful to them. Quality of life is determined by the individual’s own accomplishment of their goals.
Gregory Stock in his book Redesigning Humans, expresses his ideals of maximalism, characterized by free choice in eugenic decision-making. He argues that advancements in genetic testing, in particular germinal choice technology will have significant benefits on the human race by improving average performance, equalizing genetic potentials...

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