Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Eugenics Question

So, suppose that Smith believes that the following proposition is true:
(E) There is at least one person, S, who should not have children, because S might pass on undesirable traits to those children.
Question: Is believing (E) sufficient to make Smith a eugenicist?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question here is how to construe that "should not" both as far as source and enforceability of the obligation. Smith can believe that, for example, a person who knows themselves and their partner to possess the recessive gene for Tay-Sachs has a moral obligation to refrain from having children, due to the likelihood of pain, suffering, and early death on the part of a child born with the disease, but that the decision as to whether to have children is the right of the person. That would not be eugenics.

If Smith believes that a person should refrain from children due to obligation toward some collective entity, such as the community, species, or (god forbid) race, then Smith is a eugenicist. If Smith believes that this obligation to refrain from having children is enforceable, that it trumps a person's right to control their own body, then Smith is a Nazi or North Carolinian eugenicist. Smith should be rid out of town on a rail.

If Smith believes that a person has an obligation not to have children in cases of likely pain, suffering, and early death on the part of the child, and believes that this obligation is enforceable, then Smith is Peter Singer. Smith should be politely listened to and given no real power over anyone.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Nicely done, Anon.

6:19 PM  

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