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Bortolotti, Lisa, , John Harris. Disability, Enhancement, and the Harm-Benefit Continuum
2006, In John R. Spencer & Antje Du Bois-Pedain (eds.), Freedom and Responsibility in Reproductive Choice. Hart Publishers.
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Abstract: Suppose that you are soon to be a parent and you learn that there are some simple measures that you can take to make sure that your child will be healthy. In particular, suppose that by following the doctor’s advice, you can prevent your child from having a disability, you can make your child immune from a number of dangerous diseases and you can even enhance its future intelligence. All that is required for this to happen is that you (or your partner) comply with lifestyle and dietary requirements. Do you and your partner have any moral reasons (or moral obligations) to follow the doctor’s advice? Would it make a difference if, instead of following some simple dietary requirements, you consented to genetic engineering to make sure that your child was free from disabilities, healthy and with above average intelligence? In this paper we develop a framework for dealing with these questions and we suggest some directions the answers might take.

Comment: This paper is an especially good inclusion in any bioethics course that has units on both disability and enhancement, covering issues at the intersection of these topics – indeed, it could be used quite effectively as a “transition paper”, bridging a unit on the former topic with a unit on the latter. The piece pairs particularly well with Michael Sandel’s, “The Case Against Perfection”, and should be suitably accessible to all students, requiring very little philosophical background.

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Davis, Alison, , . Right to life of handicapped
1983, Journal of Medical Ethics 9 (3):181-181.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: This notion of non-personhood denies the right of handicapped people to be recognised as equal human beings in a caring society, and it makes a mockery of the goodwill which seemingly abounded in the International Year of Disabled People. Legislation of the type proposed could well also lead to the de facto decriminalisation of the act of killing a handicapped person of any age, just as it did in Hitler’sGermany.And if it does, woe betide any handicapped people who are too ill to defend their right to life by protesting that they are in fact happy. And woe betide us all, when we get too old to be considered ‘useful’ and all the friends who could have spoken in our defence have already been oh so lovingly ‘allowed to die’.

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Imafidon, Elvis, , . Intrinsic Versus Earned Worth in African Conception of Personhood
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 239-254
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Every human being ought to have some form of intrinsic value that she has in herself as well as earned or extrinsic value that she earns for herself. Although not free from contention, the possibility of a human being having certain intrinsic values is essential for the very idea of personhood. It is the reason why it would be wrong not to take a baby as a person simply because she is at that moment unable to earn some value for herself. In this chapter, I interrogate how the idea of personhood dominant in African cultures separates one category of persons from another category. In the first category of human beings, persons are intrinsically valued as persons due to their possession of certain ontological and normative qualities. In the second category, a few other persons are not intrinsically valued as persons due to their lack of certain required ontological and normative qualities needed to belong to the first category of human beings. But in this second category, such persons have the opportunity to earn the value of personhood given to those in the first category. Put differently, the other has the potential of becoming the one if he works tirelessly toward it through individual and group efforts. I explore three specific examples of the second category of persons who have worked to earn some form of worth that the African society in which they live presents as extrinsic to them: persons with albinism, black people, and black women. In this case, a consistent individual lifestyle of rising above expectations and group rights advocacy are essential. I conclude that the African conception of personhood is flawed in its failure to recognize the intrinsic worth and value of all human beings regardless of their ontological and normative status and because it also fails in appreciating the importance of difference in the unfolding of reality.

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Kuhse, Hoyt, , Singer, Peter. Should the Baby Live? The Problem of Handicapped Infants
1985, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Publisher’s Note: Few subjects have generated so many newspaper headlines and such heated controversy as the treatment, or non-treatment, of handicapped newborns. In 1982, the case of Baby Doe, a child born with Down’s syndrome, stirred up a national debate in the United States, while in Britain a year earlier, Dr. Leonard Arthur stood trial for his decision to allow a baby with Down’s syndrome to die. Government intervention and these recent legal battles accentuate the need for a reassessment of the complex issues involved. This volume–by two authorities on medical ethics–presents a philosophical analysis of the subject based on particular case studies. Addressing the doctrine of the absolute sanctity of life, Singer and Kuhse examine some actual cases where decisions have been reached; consider the criteria for making these decisions; investigate the differences between killing and letting die; compare Western attitudes and practices with those of other cultures; and conclude by proposing a decision-making framework that offers a rational alternative to the polemics and confusion generated by this highly controversial topic.

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