Discipline: Sociology

Coined by Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), British scientist and cousin of evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin (1809-1882), this is the doctrine that such human qualities as intelligence and character are inherited, and that humanity should take deliberate steps to produce fine offspring.

'Positive' eugenics refers to the reproduction of desirable types, whereas 'negative' eugenics refers to efforts to prevent undesirable persons from reproducing.

Although of popular interest in the early 20th century, the rise of Nazism and the racism associated with eugenics caused it to fall into disrepute.

S Holmes, The Eugenic Predicament (New York, 1933); Pauline M H Mazumdar, Eugenics, Human Genetics and Human Failings (London, 1991)


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