Eugenics casts a long shadow over contemporary genetics. Any measure, whether in clinical genetics or biotechnology, which is suspected of eugenic intent is likely to be opposed on that ground. Yet there is little consensus on what this word signifies, and often only a remote connection to the very complex set of social movements which took that name. After a brief historical summary of eugenics, this essay attempts to locate any wrongs inherent in eugenic doctrines. Four candidates are examined and rejected. The moral challenge posed by eugenics for genetics in our own time, I argue, is to achieve social justice.
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