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The History of Eugenics. How many ideas have there been in the history of mankind which were unthinkable ten years before and which, when their mysterious hour struck suddenly appeared, and spread all over the earth? ~Dostoyevsky. Plato’s The Republic.

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the history of eugenics

The History of Eugenics

How many ideas have there been in the history of mankind which were unthinkable ten years before and which, when their mysterious hour struck suddenly appeared, and spread all over the earth?

~Dostoyevsky

plato s the republic
Plato’s The Republic
  • “The best men must have intercourse with the best women as frequently as possible, and the opposite is true of the very inferior.“
  • Proposed the establishment of a fixed lottery in which each person was assigned a “marriage number” corresponding to a quantitative assessment of their fitness
  • He believed this system would lead to a predictable improvement of the human race.
evidence of eugenics in history
Evidence of Eugenics in History
  • Sparta: phenotypic selection through infanticide
    • Weak or undesirable babies were abandoned
  • Rome:
    • Fourth Table of Roman stated that deformed children would be put to death
sir francis galton
Sir Francis Galton
  • Inspired by Darwin’s Origin of Species
  • He believed societies in favor of spending resources on the weak were in opposition to natural selection
  • Defined eugenics as: “the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage.”
  • His approach to eugenics was based upon social statistics
nazi germany
Nazi Germany
  • Practiced negative and positive eugenics
    • Forced sterilization, euthanasia
    • Awarded Aryan women for having many children with Aryan men
  • Some argued that the Holocaust was "a vast dysgenic program to rid Europe of highly intelligent challengers to the existing Christian domination by a numerically and politically minuscule minority.” ~Seymour W. Itzkoff
united states
United States
  • Alexander Graham Bell recommended deaf individuals not be allowed to marry
  • Thirty states adopted legislation to perform forced sterilization on those deemed “mentally unfit.”
eugenics video
Eugenics Video
  • http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2900862928394447521&q=eugenics&total=372&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=7
  • http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4328629524891345415&q=eugenics+history&total=41&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0
discussion
Discussion
  • In New York, incest between close relatives is a felony with a maximum penalty of four years in prison. Is this law a form of eugenics? What role, if any, should the state have in preventing unions that would inevitably lead to “undesirable” offspring?
  • Some states require a blood test to check for venereal disease before issuing a marriage license. How would you feel about mandatory genetic testing for couples planning to marry?
references
References:
  • http://personal.uncc.edu/jmarks/eugenics/eugenics.html
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics
  • http://www.eugenics.net/
  • ftp://refugia.net/pub/DE2e_eugenic.pdf