, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 177-189
Date: 09 Mar 2011

“Unfit for Life”: A Case Study of Protector-Protected Analogies in Recent Advocacy of Eugenics and Coercive Genetic Discrimination

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This paper utilizes Iris Marion Young’s critical, post-9/11 reading of Thomas Hobbes, “as a theorist of authoritarian government grounded in fear of threat” (Young 2003). Applying Young’s reading of Hobbes to the high-profile ethicist Julian Savulescu’s advocacy of genetic enhancement reveals an underlying unjust discrimination in Savulescu’s use of patriarchal protector–protected analogies between family and state. First, the paper shows how Savulescu’s concept of procreative beneficence, in which parents use genetic selection to have children who will have the “best lives” possible, is unjustly discriminatory against marginalized groups. Increasingly, however, he has invoked public security to justify genetic interventions. In recent speeches, Savulescu has argued a global state of emergency is developing due to a combination of the global environmental crisis, the threat of bioterrorism, and the failure of liberalism. To help deal with this emerging state of emergency, Savulescu advocates an unjustly discriminatory array of genetic-based governance practices, including detention and segregation.