Critique Paper 1 submitted for my PhD program.
Journal Title: From political economy to sociology: Francis Galton and the social-scientific origins of eugenics
Author : Chrish Renwick
Date Published/Publisher: BJHS 44 (3): 343-369, September 2011/British Society for the History of Science 2011
Francis Galton is the father of eugenics. His theory of humanity is based on inequality. Inspired to solve the political economic crisis, Galton believed that the world needs highly intelligent human race capable of meeting the modern life through selective breeding by encouraging the fit people to multiple while suppressing unfit individuals to reproduce. With Darwin’s influenced on scientific naturalism, Galton was inspired to pursue a study using the law of frequency and error which showed potential result of hereditary pattern. Framing from pangenesis theory, he studied the rabbits to prove that physiological qualities can be scientifically manipulated. However, the study failed. Thus, Galton refocused his research on heredity to statistical methods rather physiological aspects. Successes on statistical research of human physical characteristics lead to name his programme as “eugenics”. Further innovative approaches were applied like using the questionnaire, anthropometric laboratory, and the mid-parent to focus his ultimate goal in improving human race.
Galton’s eugenics was perceived as the moral philosophy to improve humanity by encouraging the ablest and healthiest to multiply. The concept of improving the physical and mental characteristics of the human race was a genius and admirable theory/program to find solution of the social, political and economic crisis we are facing (King, undated). However, historically the applications involved not just increasing the birth of the fit by selected parents (positive eugenics), but also reducing the birthrate of those people thought to ruin such improvement, the “unfit” (negative eugenics). It also eliminates the defective ones. This became horrible when it was applied by some countries to eliminate human being like abortion, infanticide, forced sterilization and mass killings by the Nazi which has detrimental effects to humanity (Grigg, undated). Ethical and moral issues of eugenics had risen citing that it’s against God purpose of human to live (Man-on, 2009). However, scientifically, this theory has positive outcome to the future researchers who will try to make impacts on genetic studies to improve human characteristics and society. Previous failures will serve as cautions to be more careful in studies and applications. Nowadays, eugenics concept is applicable in a positive way to impede human population growth to save the earth. It helps in maintaining population not to exceed the carrying capacity of the earth, thus, sustaining the environment’s productive estate (Glad, 2007). Besides, when Galton did his studies and coined eugenics, he never had thought that it would lead to devastating effects to mankind. His ideal was for the betterment of the society (Galton, 1904).
Intelligence and other human qualities are innate and developed through time from the outside exposures and learning. Thus, teachers play a crucial role in shaping the personality and characteristics of a person no matter what genetic make-up he/she might be. However, we must also accept that eugenic concept has a sense of truth, that our innate characteristics can be manipulated scientifically and thus we must teach our students to be open-minded with the relationship of technology, our body and the society. We must accept that genetic manipulations should be done for the betterment of the people and the world, like genetic therapy, making artificial babies, etc. Personally, I am in favor of these hoping to have positive outcome, regardless of religious belief that it is against God’s creation. On the other hand, we must avoid racism in the classroom and anywhere else because everyone has the right to live. In fact, nowadays multiculturalism is taught in the classroom. In the classroom each individual manifests different level of abilities; teachers should provide appropriate learning or teaching input to cater different needs without segregating them.
1. Galton, F. (1904). Eugenics: It’s Definition, Scope and Aims. The American Journal of Sociology. Vol. X; July 1904, No. 1. Retrieved on November 24, 2011 from http://www.galton.org/essays/1900-1911/galton-1904-am-journ-soc-eugenics-scope-aims.htm
2. Glad. J. (n.d) Future Human Evolution: Eugenics in the Twenty First Century, taken from Old-thinker News, 2007 (Eugenics Moves to the Twenty-First century by Taylor, Daniel). Retrieved on December 2, 2011 from http://www.oldthinkernews.com/?p=118
3. Grigg, R. (n.d). Eugenics…death of the defenceless. The Legacy of Darwin’s cousin Galton. Retrieved on December 2, 2011 from http://creation.com/eugenics-death-of-the-defenceless
4. King, D. (n.d). The Persistence of Eugenics. GenEthics News. Issue 22. Retrieved on November 27, 2011 from http://www.hgalert.org/topics/geneticSelection/eugenics.htm
5. Man-on, P. Jr. (2009). Moral Implications of Eugenics. LUMINA. An Interdisciplinary Research and Scholarly Journal. Vol. 20, No. 1. Holy Name University, Tagbilaran city, Bohol. Retrieved on December 1, 2011 from http://www.hnu.edu.ph/main/publication/kinaadman/ 1200309/120030914.pdf