ST112 WA2018

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Designing a Baby: the Market and the Concerns

Designer babies are in high demand. The market is expanding in a consumer oriented society. This creates a cause for concern if designer babies and the market surrounding it are ethical. The market for designer babies, a biotechnology, includes preimplantation genetic diagnosis, in vitro fertilisation (IVF), sperm banks, surrogacy, and counseling. Designer babies impact on society is important to analyze because it could change the relationship between people and having babies. Continue reading

What determines happiness? 

Many people believe they have a clear idea of what happiness is, and exactly what they need to do in order to achieve it. However, countless are misguided in their beliefs. Although many would think that wealth, power, and stability constitute happiness, this is certainly not the case. Brave New World portrays a perfectly controlled society, meant to eliminate the horrors of conflict, instability, and unknowns such as death. Sounds perfect, right? Not quite. Despite its surficial benefits, it is clear that this society is far from perfect in terms of happiness and human mental well being. The society of Brave New World has stripped its inhabitants of the privileges that help define happiness as well as those that determine humanity itself.

Brave New World creates a society designed to be perfectly stable and orderly, creating and conditioning its inhabitants to function practically as robots. It attempts to make everyone equals by creating large groups of identical twins, and genetic classes of people designed to fit into certain roles in society. However, this only reinforces the division between groups by creating classes that determine a person’s genetic makeup and everything about their life. People are denied liberty and basic human rights in the creation of these classes.  And even further, people are deprived of individuality, by being created as twins and conditioned to have the same beliefs. Everyone is forced to conform to the strict order of society, and no one can have any personal opinions or character. Bernard struggles with this throughout the novel, as he feels different from everyone else and is alienated because of his attempt to express his personal opinions and general discontent with society. People are not able to form true human relationships in this environment.

Yes, the people in Brave New World claim to be living happy lives. But this is only because they do not know what happiness really is. Their society has been confined so much that they are not able to experience true human emotions, such as love and happiness. And even their superficial perceived happiness has its limits. The people rely strongly on their daily dose of soma to keep them going, as evidenced by the riot that occurs when Bernard begins throwing the soma rations out the window. They are craving fulfillment that they are not able to achieve under the constraints the the World State society.

Brave New World shows us that human happiness depends on true human connections. Without individuality and opinions, there can be no meaningful connections between people. Yes, the people in Brave New World are social, but they have been deprived of the humanity necessary to form real relationships. And without these bonds, they are not able to experience true human happiness. They believe they are happy, but looking in from the outside it is clear that what they are experiencing is far from the true human happiness we know. In a world so stabilized that there are no individual opinions or personalities, people have no true basis on which to connect. Yes, there is no conflict and no horrors experienced by the inhabitants of the World State, but there is no love and happiness either.

 

Brave New or Same Old?

The further back we look, the simpler life seems. To the prehistoric human, it was no more than living from day to day, keeping a full stomach and looking out for anything that might want to fill its stomach with you. As we advanced, society became more complex, one had to think about his crops, about his relationship to the landowner, his neighbors and so on. It gradually got to where we are today, where we are for the most part the same as our ancestors from tens of thousands of years ago but have made our lives unimaginably complex compared to theirs. However, what is the consequence of this complexity? Is it happiness, or are we just distracting ourselves from what we truly want; making our lives unnecessarily complex by polishing essays at 3 AM in the morning?

I think it’s reasonable to say that most people today would not want to go back and live in a pre-civilized society, why would they? With all the comforting aspects of modern life, we would definitely be miserable if those were taken away. This, however, is oddly similar to the contrast between the “Savage Reservation” and the “World State” from Brave New World. One is a society in which many problems of the past are not even in the back of people’s minds, but I would still argue it is not one that is objectively better for everyone.

Just by looking at the complexity of modern life, it is no wonder we live in a stress epidemic. We are constantly under pressure to perform and give 110% in order to be successful. However, what is meant by success? Is it directly proportional to happiness? Definitely not. This is the easiest to see in developed countries amongst the upper classes. The number of anti-depressants being prescribed are at a record high, and we are currently living in an opioid epidemic, one which is primarily affecting successful people in developed countries. Therefore, a society which removes the need for living a day-to-day life for most people does not necessarily lead to happiness. However, neither does one without the comforts of modern life.

Most of us would not even have the skillset required to live in a society 200-300 years ago, let alone even further in the past. However, the same statement holds for those that were born into those times. It’s a common theme amongst people that we strive towards achieving certain values, however, we are still most fond of what we grew up in. Happiness and fulfillment in humans is not an objective goal. Different cultures have vastly different values and strive towards those as their definition of success. Therefore, is it really on us, outsiders from neither the Savage Reservation nor the World State to judge the morality of their society? Just as John wasn’t too impressed with the “civilized world”, I am fairly certain none of us would agree to live in either of the communities from Brave New World.

 

The Disabled in the Second Wave of Eugenics

    Eugenics, the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, has been both an admired and a highly controversial branch of science.  Birthed in the mid-nineteenth century by British scholar Francis Galton upon his discovery of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, this field of study has inspired scientific communities and governments throughout the world to seek advancement of the human population and eradication of social issues by selectively promoting reproduction among favored individuals and by inhibiting reproduction with unfavorable individuals. This cause for eugenics even compelled certain authorities to implement forced sterilization and, most strikingly, the utter genocide of Jews and other peoples by Nazi Germany. With such egregious events having occurred in the name of eugenics, the drastic decline in the popularity of this field is indeed feasible. Continue reading

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