Excellent post. Not much to disagree with, but a few points to consider:

1. The line between coercive and non-coercive is not as clear or morally significant as it initially appears. For example, laws that ban incest or that subsidize IVF and PGT in order to promote access to genetic enhancement are coercive (like any law that prohibits or encourages behavior), but not hard to justify.

2. Harmless eugenics is an interesting way to frame your view. Of course, there will always be "counterfactual harms" to those embryos which are discarded, but which would have enjoyed good lives (in many cases, anyway). But this is already true when women use IVF. I suppose we'll increase these harms once people start doing IVF for the express purpose of reproducing in a way that maximizes the chance their child will fare well, but this is already true for individual sperm and eggs, which are wasted but which could create future life. So, I see no real objection to the label.

3. You're right that we face resistance from both sides: blank slaters on the right and left, one motivated by religion, the other motivated by political views that take the place of religion. Many have correctly argued that the new pearl-clutching left closely resembles the puritans of early America. If we can find a way to convince the sincere proponents of equality (equal access, not equal outcome) of the importance of genetics in producing the patterns we see around us, they might change their views. However, there are no guarantees. Strangely enough, Paige Harden recognizes the importance of IQ and other highly heritable personality traits, but takes an "anti-eugenic" position. This is not a consistent position, unless you want to lock in genetic hierarchies.

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"It will likely be untenable to deny the accusation of being a eugenicist"

Line I strongly disagree with. I think it's very possible to stigmatize use of technically accurate words, rule argument by analogy as offensive, or just re-define words for political advantage. A few people use embryo selection for reasons that are sympathetic to the media- "the doctors said our kids would be at high risk for condition X and after living through it ourselves"- and then only a few online edgelords and hardcore Christians will dare compare it to eugenics.

If this happens, seeing my IQ shift to the left side of the bell curve in real time will be pretty trippy!

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Beautifully articulated. I’d say the inevitable politicisation of Eugenics like many other issues within the heart of morality and life, obscures rather than clarifies its philosophical underpinnings.

However I do wonder, as crude as it sounds, if our ability to determine the characteristics of our offspring will in some way upset the sociological and economic balance upon which capitalist markets and cultural institutions have been built upon. We might see a fundamental re-thinking of how culture is lived and even sold to us.

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Sep 10, 2022Liked by Ives Parr

My biggest concern with this is not economic inequality, but attractiveness inequality. Creating more geniuses is probably an unmitigated good for everyone, but I fear that an unlimited supply of Gigachads will rapidly accelerate the trend of female hypergamy and create a large permanent underclass of male incels. It could get so extreme that monogamy breaks down entirely and polygyny begins to dominate, with women joining the harems of genetically-enhanced men in order to avoid reproducing with unenhanced men.

This seems plausible in terms of evolution: while men are attracted to a wide range of women because they could in theory impregnate all of them over a short period of time, women are only attracted to the single most attractive man they encounter, because they can only be impregnated by one man every 9 months.

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Sep 8, 2022Liked by Ives Parr

My argument would be: unregulated individual-choice eugenics *can* harm unenhanced children and/or humanity relative to the default case.

The problem is that selecting for individual success can select for, to put it bluntly, evil - vicious behaviour that advantages oneself relative to others. See this LW post: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/KE8wPzGiX5QPotyS8/conjuring-an-evolution-to-serve-you

I could easily see a society with unregulated individual-choice eugenics winding up like Enron, with the "enhanced" people extracting resources from the "unenhanced" and altruistic traits being weeded out until the entire society collapsed under its own depravity. Humanity achieved morality via the group selection of prehistoric genocidal war - those that truly benefitted the group were selected for, because their families would exterminate the families of those more selfish. Mere modern society doesn't have the selective power to undo this in a hurry (prehistory lasted hundreds of thousands of years), but active eugenics does.

(Of course, governmentally-enforced eugenics has its own pitfalls, most obviously that the motives of those in power are potentially misaligned with the motives of society as a whole and that there's the potential for value lock-in.)

Chesterton's fence looms large in this arena; it is dangerous to break that which you do not understand because there are many more ways to harm than to help. The average conservative might not be able to elucidate this entire argument, but evolution made conservatives because conservative heuristics are *very frequently right* despite their lack of rigour. It is, obviously, possible to get positive results from a eugenics program, but if you think it's *easy* you're due for an appointment with the Gods of the Copybook Headings.

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i found this interesting and usefull; will try to find some language that fits this model well

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There isn't serious objection to IVF amongst *most* pro-lifers. IVF brings babies into the world, abortion kills them.

Most pro-life people are just pro-family, pro-fertility, pro-marriage, pro-traditional sexual norms. They want you to keep your pants on, marry young, stay married, and have a bunch of kids. They don't want you to screw around, abort the babies when you get knocked up, and die alone and childless. That's it, its not really about some super technical discussion of when "life begins".

I don't think you have anything serious to worry about from them.

Eventually, black people will use government funding to close the IQ gap and jump at the chance, so whatever resistance you get from the "that's racist!" crowd will shrink too. You might be vilified one generation and then revered the next.

The real question to ask over the long run is "what happens to the left behind"? I have recently born daughters. If this technology takes off quickly, they could go from normal probably above average intelligence individuals to, relative to the next generation, ugly sick retards. How are they understand their purpose in life? As simply born at a bad time? Not really having a purpose?

You are going to need alternative moral frameworks to scientific materialism to help these people navigate their lives. I don't really want the church to ban IVF, but it would be nice to have some place that worked for everyone. Even the In-Valids.

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I'm afraid this article demonstrates the kind of thinking it is attempting to correct.

"But, surely, not marrying your cousin because your offspring will have an increased risk of having congenital disorders is eugenic."

No, I wouldn't say that it is eugenic, anymore than wandering around killing all Capricorns is eugenic. Anything that doesn't affect the proportion of alleles in the gene pool is unrelated to evolution. Evolution is the point of eugenic thinking: specifically, to replace natural (and/or sexual) selection with artificial selection.

"With eugenics, the problem is coercion."

No, this is not generally the case. Many coercive actions are considered morally obligatory, like forcing divorced parents to pay child support, forcing drug addicts into rehab, or forcing children to attend school. The problem most people have with coercive eugenics is that directed evolution - eugenics - is not considered an appropriate *justification* for coercion. And the reason is that valuing an artificially, socially chosen direction for evolution is itself generally considered wrong. The result is that many people even argue against non-coercive eugenic ideas.

Consider the following:



"As 2017 came to a close, Vice News profiled a woman named Barbara Harris, whose organization pays drug addicts to get themselves sterilized or have an IUD implanted.

Traveling the country in her branded RV, Harris thinks of herself as a crusader for the many unfortunate children born into a miserable life with drug addicted parents. Indeed, many of the women whom Harris works with have as many as seven children, despite being addicted to heroine, meth, cocaine or crack.

“Nothing positive comes to a drug addict who gives birth to eight children that are taken away from her. This is a win-win for everybody,” Harris says of her operation.

Having operated for over 20 years and receiving millions in donations, Harris has now paid for the sterilization and long-term birth control of roughly 7,000 people, a majority of whom are black women. She began her operation after adopting four children who were all born from the same drug-addicted mother.

Harris’ moral reasoning is purely Machiavellian. In her mind, the ends justify the means because sterilization means fewer babies will be born into an unfortunate situation, some of whom suffer severe birth defects. “I think if there’s anything that everyone can agree on … It’s that it’s not okay to abuse children,” Harris says in justifying her practice."


Generally speaking, opponents of eugenics are not opposing coercion alone. They are either unconvinced that eugenics is of enough value to justify coercion, or in some cases, they are directly opposing eugenics in and of itself.

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deletedAug 21, 2022Liked by Ives Parr
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