A Thought Experiment for Pro-Eugenicists

Assume, for the sake of argument, that if you ranked all possible minds, there would be a possible mind that has the most utility, for whatever definition of utility you like best. (I don’t actually understand deontology or virtue ethics well enough to include deontologists and virtue ethicists, so if you fall into one of those groups please alter the thought experiment as necessary to conform to your value system.) Would it be the ethical choice to tile the entire universe with copies of Best Person?

Please note that this is a structurally similar but conceptually separate argument to “why not wirehead?” If your version of utilitarianism does not call for wireheading, then Best Person isn’t wireheading, but the entire universe still consists of 3^^^3 of zir.

One possible objection is that there may be multiple minds which all have the most possible utility. But in the least convenient possible world, where there is a single Best Person, why wouldn’t it be ethical to tile the universe with Best Person?

If you think that there should be Suboptimal People in addition to Best Person, why? What is gained from having Suboptimal People around? And how do we make sure we don’t get rid of that value through eugenics, genetic engineering, cognitive enhancement, etc.?

A Thought Experiment for Anti-Eugenicists

(Pro-life people, please pretend to be pro-choice for the duration of the thought experiment, thank you.)

The government passes a law that requires the abortion of all fetuses with Down Syndrome. No more children with Down’s Syndrome are born. Since Down’s is the result of a mutation, no genetic diversity is lost.

The government passes a law that requires the iodization of all salt. No more children acquire mental disabilities due to iodine deficiency.

If you accept that salt iodization is good but abortion of fetuses with Down’s Syndrome is bad, why? What is different between these two cases? Either way, a mentally disabled person who would exist does not.


I don’t have a good answer for either of these myself.