Eugenics Movement Essay

4165 words - 17 pages

Ashley BellStop # 536Mr HeplerU.S. History II: 1877 - Present1 November 2010Eugenics Movement in AmericaEugenics is a class of genetics and a social movement that is centered on improving the genetic make-up of the human population by getting rid of undesirable genes carried by individuals. Eugenics is a word of Greek origin that is made up of the words 'Eu' and 'Genics'; which means good and generation or origin respectively. Therefore, the word literally means 'Good Generation or Origin'. Eugenics is largely based upon Darwin's theory that seeks to explain the evolution of civilization by using the hypothesis of "man's descent from animal"; in the case of humans it was a gradual evolution from 'apes'. The theory is based on the premise that all things living and non-living have a common ancestor and that all life is related in one way or another.The origin is from a 'simplistic ancestor'; however, with the passage of time subsequent mutations modified the genetic composition and gave rise to different species and eventually, the world took its form as we know it today. The theory further presumed that the survival of various species that emerged as results of the mutations were the result of simple adaptive mechanism to the ever-changing environment.The stronger species survived by passing on the desirable traits on to their progeny; however, the species that couldn't adapt and their genetic code were not desirable enough soon perished and became extinct (Gross, et al 1983, Pp 450-458). This is known as a process of 'Natural selection' that is stronger species are favored by nature and thus, are the ones who survive in the end. Therefore, the main foundation of the eugenics movement was to eliminate those, who were deemed as undesirable segments of the human population and thereby, promote reproduction amongst races that were believed to possess a very desirable genetic composition.Darwin further pointed out that all attributes and traits of an individual are inherited and Darwin's non-theistic explanation for the origin of ethics in The Descent of Man (1871): "He pointed out that other animals live in societies and cooperate, and the social instinct producing this cooperative behavior is heritable. In humans the social instincts have developed further than in most other species, and, harnessed together with expanded human cognitive abilities, produced what we call morality. The mechanism producing the increase in social instincts was, according to Darwin, natural selection through the struggle for existence. Those groups with more cooperative and self-sacrificing individuals would out-compete those groups with more selfish individuals" (p. 22).Even though, Darwin himself was sceptical of his theory and has stated that if an organism was discovered that clearly showed no sign of evolution, such an organism would be called 'Irreducibly complex system'.The discovery would thereby nullify the whole theory and...

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