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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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Added by: Chris Howard
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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