Normal Life: Liberal Eugenics, Value Pluralism and Normalisation

  • Catherine MillsEmail author
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 49)


The development of technologies such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, reproductive cloning, and genetic therapy and enhancement have prompted considerable public and scholarly concern about a return to the eugenic projects of the early twentieth century. But while there has been much disagreement on whether new genetic technologies are eugenic or not, with the implication being that their moral acceptability rests on this designation, some contributors to this debate have taken a different approach. They argue that while new genetic technologies may well be eugenic, they constitute a new form of ‘liberal’ or ‘laissez faire’ eugenics, which are morally distinct from the totalitarian eugenics of the twentieth century. The core idea driving the formulation of this notion is that even if genetic practices are considered eugenic, this is not necessarily an indication that they are morally indefensible, since a certain form of eugenic intervention may be compatible with the key moral principles of liberal democratic societies. In apparent opposition to the more familiar form of eugenics, it is argued that this form of eugenic intervention extends individual freedom in reproductive choices and insists upon state neutrality and value pluralism.


Social Norm Human Nature Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis Normalisation Critique Genetic Technology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine and Unit for History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia

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