Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 3–12 | Cite as

Moderate eugenics and human enhancement

  • Michael J. SelgelidEmail author
Scientific Contribution


Though the reputation of eugenics has been tarnished by history, eugenics per se is not necessarily a bad thing. Many advocate a liberal new eugenics—where individuals are free to choose whether or not to employ genetic technologies for reproductive purposes. Though genetic interventions aimed at the prevention of severe genetic disorders may be morally and socially acceptable, reproductive liberty in the context of enhancement may conflict with equality. Enhancement could also have adverse effects on utility. The enhancement debate requires a shift in focus. What the equality and/or utility costs of enhancement will be is an empirical question. Rather than philosophical speculation, more social science research is needed to address it. Philosophers, meanwhile, should address head-on the question of how to strike a balance between liberty, equality, and utility in cases of conflict (in the context of genetics).


Ethics Genetics Eugenics Enhancement Liberty Equality Moderate Pluralism 



Much of the research for this article was conducted during a 2007 visit to the Brocher Foundation, which I thank for support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Human Bioethics; School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies; Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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