Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Michael Ruse Goes Ambivalent on Eugenics

via Mark Stricherz we have found Michael Ruse's review of a book on American eugenics, Better for All the World.

Paragraph of note:
Bruinius suggests, rightly, that compulsory sterilization was horrible and not something of which the nation should be proud.


Consider a case that Bruinius mentions, that of a woman with an IQ of 71 -- just about the level that even today's Supreme Court thinks makes a person incompetent -- who had eight children out of wedlock. Is it absolutely wrong if the state says, "Get sterilized or we will keep you out of society until you are past reproductive age"? I keep thinking of all of those kids. Even if they are not genetically inferior, I doubt very much that they are going to have the warm, nurturing upbringing I have tried to give my children.

The edited elision was a rebuke to Bruinius' reductio ad Hitlerum, but it is curious to see such a forceful disapproval of sterilization lead with unconscious dissonance into a sympathetic consideration of the very object of disapprobation.

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