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Fear of a female planet: how John Harris came to endorse eugenic social engineering
  1. Robert Sparrow
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Sparrow, School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia; robert.sparrow{at}


In this paper, I respond to criticisms by John Harris, contained in a commentary on my article “Harris, harmed states, and sexed bodies”, which appeared in the Journal of Medical Ethics, volume 37, number 5. I argue that Harris's response to my criticisms exposes the strong eugenic tendencies in his own thought, when he suggests that the reproductive obligations of parents should be determined with reference to a claim about what would enhance ‘society’ or ‘the species’.

  • Bioethics
  • biomedical enhancement
  • genetic enhancement
  • human enhancement
  • John Harris
  • harm
  • philosophical ethics
  • history of health ethics/bioethics
  • enhancement
  • sex predetermination/selection
  • eugenics

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  • Funding The research for this paper was supported under the Australian Research Council's Future Fellowships funding scheme (project FT100100481). The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the Australian Research Council.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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