sábado, 2 de abril de 2016

Is disability a disadvantage or a mere difference?

Is disability a disadvantage or a mere difference?

Is disability a disadvantage or a mere difference?

Philosophical reflection on disability has a history, yet it is only in the past fifteen years that the contemporary Anglophone philosophical world has given it much attention.

The renewed interest in the topic has culminated in a number of significant papers and books, among which is the 2015 book The Minority Body, by University of Virginia philosopher Elizabeth Barnes. Barnes argues for a social constructivist conception of disability. This means that the disadvantages that accompany disability are the result of social injustice, rather than physiological or psychological disadavantages.

Barnes suggests that, were the social injustices of the modern world to be remedied, the perceived disadavantages of disability would disappear. As she wrote in a 2014 essay, the overall disadvantage associated with disability would be removed if society were “fully accommodating of disabled people.”

Yet Barnes’s view is highly controversial, and has garnered widespread criticism. In an article published in the latest edition of the Journal Ethics, Guy Kahane and Julian Savulescu argue against Barnes’s “mere difference view”. According to Kahane and Savulescu, disabilities are objectively disadvantageous to an individual (they label their position the “detrimental difference view”). Kahane and Savulescu present a series of cases that seem to show that it would be impermissible tocause disability in an individual. And yet, it would seem that the mere difference view would permit  causing disability. Kahane and Savulescu argue that Barnes fails to adequately respond to this objection. For the two authors, this is sufficient reason to reject Barnes “mere difference” position.

Elsewhere, in a paper that appeared earlier this year as part of a Journal of Medical Ethics symposium on philosophy and disability, Stockholm University ethicist Greg Bognar provides an alternative critique of Barnes’s thesis.

Like Kahane and Savulescu, Bognar believes that disability is “no mere difference”. Bognar considers a series of arguments made by disability advocates in favor of the mere difference view. Some of the views he critiques include claim that disability is sufficiently similar to other mere differences that aren’t disadvantages, like race or gender; the claim that disability helps other people to cultivate other talents and aptitudes; and the view that disability is valuable because it is valued by those who are disabled.

Bognar suggests that none of these arguments sufficiently demonstrate that disability is not physiologically or psychologically disadvantageous for people. If he is right, then disability as such is detrimental and not just a trivial “difference”. Despite their arguments, Kahane, Savuesculu and Bognar go to some length to distinguish their criticisms from prejudice against disabled individuals. It is not a question of discrimination against a person, but rather a consideration of the moral/medical status of a condition
- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/is-disability-a-disadvantage-or-a-mere-difference/11817#sthash.RTOxTma7.dpuf


There’s probably no other country in which bioethics plays a greater role in politics than in the United States. Or at least one bioethical issue – abortion. The impending election is looking increasingly like a contest between fiercely pro-abortion Hillary Clinton and muddled anti-abortion Donald Trump.
This week Trump “misspoke” for the umpteenth time, but this time the topic was abortion. At first he declared that a woman who had an abortion should be punished, a position which he changed within the day. Now he says that the doctor should be punished.
The ensuing storm in the media meant that Trump has become the only candidate to unite pro-abortion campaigners and pro-life campaigners. Both are angry: the former because women’s reproductive rights are threatened; the latter because it distorts their message.
Trump has acknowledged that he is a “convert” to the pro-life camp, but as a spokeswoman for the Susan B Anthony List, a pro-life lobby group, said, “The most obvious thing about his comments yesterday is that he has not thought about these issues deeply.”
Better said: abortion is one of the many issues about which Trump has not thought deeply. Unfortunately, my hunch is that this controversy, like past controversies, will do him no harm at all in his race for the nomination. But November may be a different story.

Michael Cook

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a young Cambridge PhD candidate has reiterated his challenge the British medical establishment.
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