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Looking into the shadow: The eugenics argument in debates on reproductive technologies and practices

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>7/12/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Monash Bioethics Review
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)1-22
Publication statusPublished
Early online date7/12/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Eugenics is often referred to in debates on the ethics of reproductive technologies and practices, in relation to the creation of moral boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable technologies, and acceptable and unacceptable uses of these technologies. Historians have argued that twentieth century eugenics cannot be reduced to a uniform set of practices, and that no simple lessons can be drawn from this complex history. Some authors stress the similarities between past eugenics and present reproductive technologies and practices (what I define throughout the paper as ‘the continuity view’) in order to condemn the latter. Others focus on the differences between past and present practices (what I define throughout the paper as ‘the discontinuity view’) in order to defend contemporary reproductive technologies. In this paper, I explore the meanings of the word ‘eugenics’ and the relationship between its past and present uses in terms of contemporary debates on reproductive technologies and practices. I argue that moral disagreement about present technologies originate in divergent views of condemnable and justifiable features of the past.