Hixie's Natural Log

2002-06-10 15:19 UTC Continuing the eugenics debate

Nadia continues:

People who exist have an innate right to continue to exist.

Agreed. That's article number 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I think that people also have a right to procreate if they can care for their children.

Why? What gives them that right? I think this is the fundamental issue upon which we disagree. I am starting from the assumption that the right to found a family, article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, does not imply procreation, but merely the right to form the basis for a family, which could then be completed through adoption, procreation, or any number of other methods.

However, it would appear that my interpretation is not the only one. I could not find a definitive answer as to how the word "found" should be interpreted. (Of course, governments are not really obliged to uphold the Declaration.)

It's that "if" clause that eugenics seeks to modify, to put more value judgements on the prospective parents.

Well, not so much modify, as introduce. But yes.

I think that we still don't understand enough about the way evolution works to say that eugenics will be a foolproof solution. What I should have said is that nature will always have surprises in store, and second-guessing often doesn't work.

Farmers and other agricultural workers have been using eugenics for thousands of years without significant problems. Most of our fruit and vegetables are the direct result of coordinated eugenics programmes. It seems to me that it works remarkably well.

And it doesn't have to be fullproof. At the limit of eugenics being totally random, the process reduces to simple population growth control, which we should be doing anyway.

Genetic engineering brings up a whole lot of other ethical arguments, which I'm not sure I want to get into, but on the whole I feel it's much more reasonable than eugenics because it's on a person-sized scale instead of a society-sized scale... and because it is by nature exceptional instead of the rule.

Genetic engineering is my preferred solution too; however, it is currently at an even more underdeveloped stage than eugenics. Maybe we should start with eugenics and then move on to genetic engineering when the technologies are ready.