Ethical debates about liberal eugenics frequently focus on the supposed unnaturalness of its means and possible harm to autonomy. I present a Nietzsche-inspired critique focusing on intention rather than means and harm to abilities rather than to autonomy. I first critique subjective eugenics, the selection of extrinsically valuable traits, drawing on Nietzsche’s notion of ‘slavish’ values reducible to the negation of another’s good. Subjective eugenics slavishly evaluates traits relative to a negatively evaluated norm (eg, above-average intelligence), disguising a harmful intention to diminish the relative value of that norm. I then argue there is no objective form of eugenics on the Nietzschean ground that abilities are not valuable intrinsically; they are valuable only if one possesses the relative power to exercise them. Abilities frustrated by conflict with other abilities or environment are harmful, while disabilities that empower one’s other abilities are beneficial. Consequently, all forms of eugenics are subject to the prior ethical critique of subjective eugenics.
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Contributors DM is the sole author of the article.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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