Eugenics, or the “science of improving stock,” is a controversial practice of encouraging reproduction of individuals with desired traits and discouraging reproduction of those with undesirable traits (Cox, 2020). The concept of eugenics has a long and complicated history, with roots in the writings of Plato and Aristotle, the teachings of Confucius, and the work of Charles Darwin (Cox, 2020). The modern era of eugenics began in the late nineteenth century with the works of English scientist Francis Galton, who sought to improve the human race through selective breeding (Cox, 2020).

Eugenics was popularized in the early twentieth century, and was embraced by governments and scientists around the world. In the United States, eugenics programs were implemented at the state level, resulting in forced sterilization of individuals deemed “unfit” (Schmidt, 2020). In Nazi Germany, eugenic policies were used to justify the genocide of millions of Jews and other minority groups (Schmidt, 2020).

Although eugenics is now widely condemned, the practice has recently seen a resurgence in the form of genetic engineering and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) (Holt, 2019). These technologies allow for the prenatal selection of embryos with desired traits, and are increasingly being used in reproductive medicine (Holt, 2019).

The ethical implications of eugenics are complex, and the practice has been the subject of much debate (Cox, 2020). Proponents of eugenics argue that it is a practical way to ensure better health and quality of life for future generations (Holt, 2019). Opponents of eugenics point to the potential for abuse, and the risk of creating a society in which certain groups are deemed inferior (Schmidt, 2020).

In conclusion, eugenics has a long and complex history, and is a subject of ongoing debate. Although eugenics has been widely condemned, it is still used in some forms of reproductive medicine. As technology advances, it is important to consider the ethical implications of eugenics, and be mindful of its potential for abuse.


Cox, J. (2020). Eugenics: A brief history. The Guardian.

Holt, M. (2019). Eugenics: A dangerous past and a controversial present. Encyclopedia Britannica.

Schmidt, K. (2020). Eugenics and its discontents. The New York Times.

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