Eugenics





Since the end of the 19th century, eugenics has had a significant role in the development of Western society. There have been laws established by its presence and a war fought to cease its progress. To analyze the philosophy of and the actions due to eugenics, one must look at the past and see what contributions eugenics has made to events in history. One must also look at the present applications of eugenics and how they affect the lives of people. With these two directions, one can see that because it is racist, encourages immoral actions and is biologically unsound, eugenics is iniquitous and should be abolished from modern medical and political thought.
In 1883, Sir Francis Galton developed a so called science that dealt with the manner in which the human population could be improved. Galton thought that a pure race would make all population problems on earth obsolete and therefore contribute to an increased longevity of the human race. He called it the science of "eugenics", a word derived from the Greek eugenes, meaning "well born". He published the aspects of his new science in his book Hereditary Genius in 1869, establishing the roots and importance of his theories.
Galton had admired how horticulturists tried to improve the plant system by encouraging reproduction between the strongest species. He decided that this could be done with humans in the same way.
Galton once wrote that the point of eugenics was to "give the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable" (Chase, p.13). Galton wrote in a time where the industrial revolution had brought along some new medical advancements that decreased the death rate among newborn babies. These new technologies however were only given to the upper classes at first. As a result, the upper classes had a lower birth-rate as they were more confident in keeping their children alive. This scared Galton, seeing this change as a threat to humanity as he believed that it meant there would be more lower class citizens in the future, thus decreasing the average level of society.
These ideas came from the fact that he believed the old theories that the poor received infectious diseases, were illiterate and generally uneducated because it was this way in their blood. He also looked at the most important people in society such as judges, politicians and scientists and decided that they were all biologically alike. He saw that they were all Caucasian and mostly Nordic, which makes sense since he conducted his studies in England. It then logically follows that he believed that the social pyramid was and should be dominated by Caucasians, at the top of which reigned the Nordics.
Galton thus encouraged reproduction among upper class citizens to eugenically encourage this hereditarily superior "race" to fend off the increasing number of inferior, poorer breeds. He not only concentrated on economic factors when dividing the people but on racial factors as well.
Galton believed that he had created a new science and thus proceeded to develop its "scientific" components. He created a scale from A to X, X being the highest and A the lowest, grading different aspects of human beings. It was also based on rarity; an individual in the V-class appeared every 300 births and was therefore assured a successful life while an individual in the C-class appeared every 16 births, placing him in the ranks of the common folk. There was a different system however for the Negroes. Galton once said, "classes E and F of the Negro may roughly be considered as the equivalent of our C and D-a result which again points to the conclusion that the average intellectual standard of the Negro race is some two grades below our own"(Galton, P.327). He also said that, "the Jews are specialized for parasitical existence upon other nations", showing that his science was to be partially derived from personal, self-admiring beliefs.
Galton\'s theories were accepted by many high-profile people in most industrial countries but the type of eugenics practiced was slightly different and over time became entirely different philosophies.
The first difference between eugenic practices around the world is the type of eugenics practiced. There are two types: positive eugenics and negative eugenics. The latter involves the expulsion of people that