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Eugenics - Research Paper Example

( Misinterpretation 2002 ) The pseudo science of eugenics may be considered as applied Social Darwinism in the sense that proponents of this theory claimed that the genetic superiority of the elite could be enhanced by discouraging reproduction of those alleged to have inherited undesirable traits ( negative eugenics) and encouraging reproduction of those alleged to have the opposite. ( positive eugenics). A classic 20th century example is Hitler’s theory of the racial superiority of the Aryans Eugenics In the US in the 19th century academics looked to Darwinian popular evolutionary theory of the survival of the fittest to explain increasingly sharp and obvious socio-economic class differences.( History) The problem was that the lower classes were reproducing at a faster rate than the upper classes. The application of eugenics sought to reverse this trend, although this was done more in the negative sense on lower classes through forced segregation, sterilization and increased marriage restrictions. Eugenics was used as an excuse by “in” groups to maintain power at the expense of “out” groups. Thus their disadvantaged status was perpetuated. In this sense eugenics was the enemy of democracy as those deemed by the elite to be undesirable were marginalized if not eliminated. For example, California considered the center of the eugenic movement in the 1930s coercively sterilized almost 10,000 women deemed “bad” girls and prostitutes. Even the US Supreme Court endorsed the practice of eugenics claiming this was better than having to wait to “execute degenerate offspring for crime or let them starve for their imbecility” (History ) In fact Hitler’s own e3ugenic practices were inspired by the American experience. Although in a less extreme form, eugenics has also for example worked to deny blacks education, employment and advancement opportunities based on culturally skewed IQ tests. Women have been denied advancement in the corporate world on the allegation they were emotionally and intellectually unsuitable based on their gene pool. The science of Eugenics was seriously flawed because it was based on the assumption differences in human capabilities could be explained by variations in gene quality. However, in spite of elaborate labs, until the late 20th century scientists did not understand the role of genes or the fact that the genes of different races, cultures, sexes and socioeconomic classes are really much alike. Lester Frank Ward While word supported Darwin’s evolutionary theory to some extent, in the case of society he argued it was not a straight line progression to ever higher levels’ but rather the path was filled with blind detours. (Leonard p. 42 ) However, in the log run through conflict, resolution, compromise and co-operation higher social order was attained. He disagreed sharply with Social Darwinists and eugenic proponents who claimed that advancement was purely a biological process of improving gene pools, and who denied the importance of favorable economic and social environments. In other words< Ward argued that if the elite had superior abilities this was due primarily to their better access to education and opportunities than the lower classes. For this reason he advocated government promotion of welfare and education for the masses to allow them to increase their achievements and status. In this way his philosophy was more akin to present day Democrats than Republicans. I realize however, that ...Show more
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EUGENICS Introduction Although Lester Frank Ward was a Whig Republican, if he were alive today I suspect he would be a Democrat rather than a Republican as he strongly opposed the laissez faire attitude of the Republican Party today. Ward favored a more activist government role but more on him later…
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