Dawkins talking Eugenics?

in philosophy •  4 months ago 

I came across a very controversial post today on twitter. Richard Dawkins for reasons unknown to me, decided today was a pretty good day to talk about Eugenics. In case you are not aware of the baggage such conversation has, let's just say it's deeply entrenched in Nazi ideology. That being said, I did not find what he stated to be wrong per say. Clumsy? Unnecessary? Perhaps.


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Conflating Morality and Reality


To me the crux of the problem. This is to say, that the moral argument does not necessarily change a reality. I tried to make the point, but of course was met with a barrage of would be knights in shinning armor, and got blocked by a few who found my point to be equivalent to nazism.

I think I can make my point with a simpler example:

Vehicles, cars, trucks, etc, are used for transportation. We would be hard pressed to find someone disagreeing with this fact. Now, I could also say, that it would be easy to kill someone using a vehicle. I could say that vehicles can work as weapons. This would be factually correct, but of course morally reprehensible.

You see: Morality does not truncate reality. A car does not become ineffective at killing people, simply because I think it's a horrible thing to do. All that being said, let's talk eugenics for a second.

Do they work?


Well, maybe it's easier to talk about the subject as selective breeding. Does selective breeding work? Is it effective? The answer, maybe to someone's dismay, is that in practical terms it does.

Of course results in nature are not evenly distributed. Which is to say that we are always talking about bell curves. This is true for height, for skin color, etc. If you studied at any point statistics, the language should be familiar to you.

Humans have been intervening, if you will, with nature for centuries. We have a hand in the selective breeding of dogs, cows, sheep, chickens, etc. Again, this is not to say it's our right to do so, or that we should, I'm simply stating that we have done so.

The goal in selective breeding has always been to pursue, if you will, the traits that we want the most. Yes, it's not perfect, yes, there's aberrants that make the process questionable, but again we are talking about possibilities, about bell curves, and not absolutes.

Yes, but humans


It's truly out of the question in my book. Just to be clear, any type of law, any type of government who would push anything like eugenics would be tyrannical to say the least, and completely immoral. In other words, nobody in their right mind should be defending the practice, lest they indulge evil.

But to the point being made by those who understood Richard. He was not making a moral recommendation, nor expressing a positive opinion on the subject.

Dog Whistle?


On this front, I cannot defend Richard's tweet, but neither can anyone accuse him without doubts. If someone has invented the mind reading machine, then I'm behind with the times, but that I'm aware of, nobody has.

Will some Nazis grab his tweet and mentally masturbate at the notion of being correct? Maybe, but their minds were putrid before the post, and will continue to be long after. This simple fact makes it not relevant to my point.

I will say this much. I find the tweet, the opinion, to be poorly timed. Almost as if he said to himself: "Today I want to fight the world" - Yes, I don't know the context here, none of us do. But, it seems rather strange to talk about Eugenics on a given Sunday just because.... it's Sunday.

It's a touchy subject, very emotional for some, but it should not be taboo either. Ignoring facts don't make them go away, and they certainly don't make Nazis disappear.

MenO

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I guess the problem comes when that morality is subjective. Science doesn't care about your beliefs; and if morals and ethics are relative and personal, then he really has no grounds to say that his 'right and wrong' are more right than a Nazi's 'right and wrong'.
Partner selection is already selective breeding anyway; just decentralised.
You'll never get a better result by centralising decision making away from the coal face; so I think eugenics in practice would fall flat.

Good points Matt. The discussion on morality is another complex subject altogether, but I have to agree. Saying morality is subjective, makes the right and wrong nuance too blurry for those who are conflicted.

This is always a problem, no matter the subject matter. Sheeple just follow the flock without truly understanding the issue or the point being put forward.

The problem is then compounded in so much that anyone considering posting subject matter that may be considered controversial may be put off due to the mass reaction of ignorants.

Dawkins point is crystal clear if you take time to read and understand but if you simply agree with 'the previous commenter' because its easier to jump on a bandwagon than think for yourself then the world is screwed.....

Ok, the world is already screwed....

Imagine a world where we put anyone to sleep with an IQ lower than 130 it would be a more peaceful understanding place, yes?

I'm not suggesting we do this, just that the outcome would be positive for peace lol ;-)

@meno what ever you're up to these days, hope life is treating you well fella. You're missed here.

Thanks Nathen. I'm doing good brother. Been working on getting a business up and running. Things have been slow, but steady. Building my home too, almost one brick at a time.

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Don't we already sort of do that in our system through society and hypergamy woman want to mate with the men with the money and the greatest chance of getting success for themselves and their offspring.

While this doesn't produce necessarily faster people it does block certain genetics in the gene pool from moving forward just because its not institutionary decided doesn't mean its not happening already.

I like how Matt put it... it's decentralized breeding selection. It may sound gimmicky for us crypto folks, but it's pretty accurate.

I like that description, it makes a lot of sense but I wouldn't way its more or less virtuous than eugenics. We just love putting ourselves on a pedestal don't we?

The outrage seems entirely confected. He explicitly denounces eugenics when broaching the fact that people would be subject to the same forces of nature that occur when intentional, selective breeding is done. It's like social media networks are infected with this superstition that if you talk about something, it's an incantation of evil and so it must be never be spoken! How are difficult conversations supposed to happen when you're not allowed to have them?

It's like social media networks are infected with this superstition that if you talk about something, it's an incantation of evil and so it must be never be spoken! How are difficult conversations supposed to happen when you're not allowed to have them?

Spot on. The very reason why I'm a freedom of speech absolutist. Even the stupidest ideas should be allowed.

If you look at the science of selective breeding, it is indeed possible to breed humans with certain goals in mind. It's like breeding dogs for specific outcomes. As you said, it doesn't always produce the desired outcome, but it does often enough to be repeatable.
If I'm not mistaken, selective breeding was sometimes practiced with slaves in the southern U.S. states during the period of slavery. Of course, research on that subject these days would likely be greatly frowned upon, if the information was even still available.
Selective breeding of humans would be a lot more predictable with highly developed genetic mapping as a starting point. Actually, there are certain genetic diseases that could be eliminated by looking at the genetic predispositions and mutation markers before creating children, but that is perhaps a different subject.
The question of right or wrong doesn't have all that much to do with the science, but much to do with the question of if it should be done.

Precisely Amber. I don't know how some people are so confused about the clear line of separation in the subject.