Meet the New Eugenics, Same as the Old Eugenics

Posted by Gina Maranto, <i>Biopolitical Times</i> guest contributor March 4, 2013
Biopolitical Times
The unfortunate truth is that discredited ideas never do die, they just rise again in slightly altered forms—witness eugenics.  Despite the horrors perpetuated in its name, including forced sterilization and the Holocaust, the eugenic impulse is with us still. One of the forms it takes is schemes for “improving” offspring through the selection and manipulation of embryos.

In the last year or so, one neo-eugenic advocate in particular has been garnering media attention.  He’s Julian Savulescu, holder of an array of titles, including an endowed chair and directorship of a center at the University of Oxford funded by the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education.

Savulescu also edits the Journal of Medical Ethics, which affords him significant influence in guiding academic discourse and research in the field. The theme of the journal’s February 2013 issue is “the biomedical enhancement of moral status,” a project that would surely count as eugenic in nature.

Writing about himself in third person in his online CV, Savulescu lays claim to the vanguard of neo-eugenics, proclaiming that
For the last 10 years, through a series of publications (4 monographs, 1 special journal issue, 29 book chapters, 45 articles), Savulescu has led the debate on the ethics of genetic selection and human enhancement.
Not one to hide his light under a bushel, he goes on to tout his statistics: He grants top spot in his list of publications to a 2001 Bioethics article, “Procreative Beneficence: Why We Should Select the Best Children,” adding the gloss
27 articles responding to it, 14 exclusively. Landmark article arguing selection of children is not only permissible, but morally desirable. Introduced novel concept of Procreative Beneficence (cited by 137 – high citations are uncommon in the Humanities). 5th Highest Accessed Bioethics article 2010.
Francis Galton would be proud.

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