I have some pretty strong feelings about eugenics (it's a good and necessary practice), but I find it very, VERY difficult to talk about it with anyone since I'm instantly labeled a Nazi for supporting it. I'm hoping the folks on Think Atheist will be more inclined to intellectual discussion than name-calling and dismissal.
The start off, some disclaimers: genocide is wrong; taking human rights away from people of a race/religion/hairstyle you don't like is wrong; concentration camps are wrong; violence in wrong.
There. Now to the actual discussion.
When I talk about eugenics, I'm talking about the practice of systematically removing debilitating genetic traits and defects from a population by means of regulating the reproduction of its citizens. Do you have Schizophrenia? Did you know that this ailment is genetic and very easy to pass on to you children? Please, do not punish an innocent child with this problem. Are you genetically healthy, intelligent, and talented? Do you have special immunities that make you less likely to get sick? By all means, spread these traits to future generations, either by having children yourself or donating to a sperm or egg bank. Do you want children but should not carry your genetic problems onto them? Adopt. Adoption will always be available no matter what the society (just because someone has good genetic material does NOT mean they would make a good parent). Do you say that adoption is not the same? Then I suppose you care more about satisfying your selfish desires than the well being of a child.
Eugenics is, at its base, very simple - think about the future first.
I'm leaving this post now for what I'm hoping will be thoughtful and anti-inflammatory discussion.
It's the social psychology (the disease) part of social medicine (the cure) in particular which is relevant. It also include health care economics, vaccination programs, (etc) and what you suggested.
Well, there are certainly connections between chemistry and psychology/biology, but crime is more a function of applied behavior than chemistry. Whether it is brain chemistry which affects behavior, or social education which affects brain chemistry is not really a valid question, they seem to interact. You do certain things because it is socially acceptable, and avoid others because they are not. These work inside a physical construct, the genes you are born with, but separate from them with ability to often override them. If someone goes around kicking babies, they probably need individual treatment, but burglary is often ralted to socio economic factors which are fixable without chemicals.
From a completely amoral rational standpoint, prositution is an excellent means of income for (mostly) women. They literally control the supply curve, and demand is very high. They are merely correcting a market imperfection in sexual behavior by charging in a commonly accepted resource acqusition tool (money). One of the points of sex is as a bonding ritual is mutual protection - a social act - which is why sex is both a natural and social construct.
I think the crux of the eugenics debate becomes who decides which genes are beneficial and which are detrimental. It is also important whether these decisions are being made on a biological, social, or other rationale.
In biological evaluation, certain debilitating medical conditions caused by certain unfavorable genetic mutations would be easy to label as "detrimental" and therefore worthy of eradication. But what about other mutations for which the effects are both negative and positive? What about the gene for sickle-cell anemia, which causes a disease if one possesses both alleles yet also provides increased resistance to malaria if one is merely a carrier? The answer for this specific scenario would be to ensure that progeny would only be carriers, but I still think that it raises the predicament of genes being simultaneously beneficial and detrimental.
Also, whether or not a gene is beneficial is largely dependent upon environment. Although I can't pull sources off the top of my head, I think that certain studies have shown a higher percentage of ADD/ADHD amongst the descendants of peoples native to North and South America. (Well, more native than the European influx from the sixteenth century onward.) The rationale (if memory serves me correctly) is something along the lines of ADD/ADHD's symptoms being conducive to and positively selected by the lengthy migration of peoples from Eurasia to the American continents.
I think that genetic engineering is definitely an integral part of advancing medical care. I just wonder how we will establish the means of evaluation.
Sickle-cell anaemia is locally/geographically relevant. Geographical diversity has always had it's place in nature. Through the millenia, it has more prevalence in Africa because it actually helped some people reach reproductive age. In Canada, it is of no use.
ADD/ADHD is a social consideration. Westernised schools "consider" it a disease, because it changes class dynamics, but it is not. On the other hand, studies in this area are not really conclusive yet. Since the prevalence of these conditions are on the increase in North America, even though we are constantly increasing the Euro/Asian/African blood content of North American bloodlines... it contradicts the "migratory" theory.
In my definition, eugenics is simply a means to re-establish natural selection, not an excuse to meddle with our genetic code. If a person can live their life without constant medical intervention, great.
@Dave: Please open some newspapers. Your neo-con eonomic theories are emperors without clothes. They've been conclusively disproved. There's more evidence against it than god! ;)