Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Interesting Quiz Question

Posted by Michael Dickens on June 25, 2009

I was taking a political quiz when I came across this interesting question.

People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.

This was the first question that I really had to think about. I thought it was interesting enough to post here.

This issue seems similar to abortion: should a genetically disabled mother be allowed to choose to reproduce, or should she be forced not to for the sake of her children? Though it differs somewhat: reproduction does not only cause suffering for her children, but it degrades the gene pool. It is our responsibility to uphold the integrity of the gene pool, as genes are the units of natural selection (I’m in the process of reading The Selfish Gene) and are therefore vital. I agree with the quoted statement, because it is for the good of the populus that genetically disabled individuals not be allowed to reproduce. And for their own satisfaction, they can always adopt. Adoption is always helpful.

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One Response to “Interesting Quiz Question”

  1. Phynnboi said

    Another perspective is that humans are remarkably good at altering their environments to suit themselves. Too cold? Make a fire. Wear a coat. Build a shelter. Etc. Another example of adapting our environment to us is medicine, which allows people with certain disabilities to function, whereas maybe even 50 years ago, they’d have died.

    Since natural selection is about “selecting” the fittest individuals FOR A PARTICULAR ENVIRONMENT, if we’re able to change the environment so that a certain trait is no longer life-threatening, we’ve also increased the fitness of the population!

    Why would we want to do such a thing? Well, the fewer things you’re trying to “optimize” for, the more you can “optimize” what you are optimizing for–the fewer trade-offs you have to make, in other words. So, it’s possible that by allowing those disabled people to breed, we (as a species) can more quickly evolve to be fitter to the parts of our environment that we cannot yet control.

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