(Greek: eugenes, well-born)

The study of hereditary and environmental influences, for the purpose of improving the physical and mental qualities of future generations. The term was first used by Sir Francis Galton in his "Inquiries into Human Faculty" in 1883. Eugenists fall into two classes: extreme eugenists, who advocate the compulsory breeding of the select, birth control among the poor, and sterilization and euthanasia of the unfit; moderate eugenists, who advocate little more than the segregation of the feeble-minded in order to prevent their increase. The proposals of the extreme eugenist are morally untenable, as they are based on the vicious principle that a good result justifies the use of immoral means. The proposals of the moderate eugenist, however, are generally commendable and worthy of support. In the last analysis, the great task of eugenics is the reduction of the number of the feeble-minded. The only morally sound and socially adequate method of obtaining this result is the segregation of feeble-minded men and women in separate hospitals or colonies in order to prevent them from 'reproducing their kind.'

New Catholic Dictionary

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