Disability vs enhancement – BBC’s Newsnight looks at Eugenics 100 years after the 1st Int Eugenics Congress.

Last night Newsnight on the BBC talked about eugenics and asks the question “If you knew for certain your child was going to be born with a disability, would you, should you still have a baby?”.  Prof James Moore, social historian on scientific naturalism and Darwin expert, of The Open University, was interviewed.

It is 100 years since the first International Eugenics Congress took place in London.  Key prominent politicians and other figures of the time, including Churchill, Balfour, Bernard Shaw, and Maynard Keynes  attended.  The aims of the Congress were to look at the future, and explore how to improve lives by ridding the world of physical and mental disability.  While starting as a liberal movement, ultimately, the notion of eugenics was developed by the Nazi’s in their view of a totalitarian race, but even before this, mass sterilizations were undertaken around the world – and are still happening today.  Does this misuse mean it is wrong for us to take the idea of improving human beings seriously? Should the thought of ‘designer babies’ be discounted because of the association with past abuse?

This week heralds the start of the largest Paralympic Games where 4000 of the world’s greatest Paralympic athletes will compete.  Newsnight looks at the debate on what gives value to human life.

Newsnight – available on the BBC iPlayer until 4th September.

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The Arts Faculty of The Open University is a world leader in supported Open Learning, and one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. You can follow us on Twitter @OUArtsFaculty and on Facebook.
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