Eugenics Essay

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Eugenics Introduction: The idea of creating a perfect human through science and selective breeding is not a modern thought, but has been discusses and debated over centuries. After the Civil War during the 19th century, there was a troubled economy and a flood of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe into the US. The economy had rapid fluctuations and remained in this shaky manner until WWI. As the economy became more uncertain, the social inequalities between different sections of society became more evident. This era is when the idea of social Darwinism and Eugenics became a worldwide movement that was used to explain these social differences. As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, “Social Darwinism is the theory that individuals, groups, and people are subject to the same Darwinian law of natural selection as plants and animals.” (OED). Social Darwinism applies “survival of the fittest” on society, favoring certain physical and mental traits that succeed more frequently than others in order to drive social evolution in human society. Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin created the word eugenics, promoting the idea of improving the human race by eliminating the “undesirables” and multiplying the “desirables”. Galton described eugenics as:“…the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally“ (Sir Francis Galton, 1904). Eugenics is derives from the Greek word “eus" meaning “good” or “well” and “genic” meaning “born”. There are two types of eugenics: positive eugenics, which encourages “genetically superior” people to breed, and negative eugenics, which prevented “genetically inferior” people from breeding. Although there was plenty of optimism for this movement, several factors caused the political, demographic and scientific decline of the

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