David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Ethics 116 (1):100-131 (2005)
In this article I examine the proposition that severe cognitive disability is an impediment to moral personhood. Moral personhood, as I understand it here, is articulated in the work of Jeff McMahan as that which confers a special moral status on a person. I rehearse the metaphysical arguments about the nature of personhood that ground McMahan’s claims regarding the moral status of the “congenitally severely mentally retarded” (CSMR for short). These claims, I argue, rest on the view that only intrinsic psychological capacities are relevant to moral personhood: that is, that relational properties are generally not relevant. In addition, McMahan depends on an argument that species membership is irrelevant for moral consideration and a contention that privileging species membership is equivalent to a virulent nationalism (these will be discussed below). In consequence, the CSMR are excluded from moral personhood and their deaths are less significant as their killing is less wrong than that of persons. To throw doubt on McMahan’s conclusions about the moral status and wrongness of killing the CSMR I question the exclusive use of intrinsic properties in the metaphysics of personhood, the dismissal of the moral importance of species membership, and the example of virulent nationalism as an apt analogy. I also have a lot to say about McMahan’s empirical assumptions about the CSMR
|Keywords||Bioethics Moral personhood Philosophy Cognitive disability Mental retardation|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Rachel Tillman (2013). Ethical Embodiment and Moral Reasoning: A Challenge to Peter Singer. Hypatia 28 (1):18-31.
Steve Cooke (2011). Duties to Companion Animals. Res Publica 17 (3):261-274.
Anca Gheaus (2012). The Role of Love in Animal Ethics. Hypatia 27 (3):583-600.
Amy Mullin (2011). Children and the Argument From 'Marginal' Cases. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):291-305.
Asha Bhandary (2010). Dependency in Justice: Can Rawlsian Liberalism Accommodate Kittay's Dependency Critique? Hypatia 25 (1):140-156.
Similar books and articles
Shaun Gallagher (2007). Moral Agency, Self-Consciousness, and Practical Wisdom. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (s 5-6):199-223.
John D. Greenwood (1993). Split Brains and Singular Personhood. Southern Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):285-306.
Luke Russell (2010). Dispositional Accounts of Evil Personhood. Philosophical Studies 149 (2):231 - 250.
Adam Kadlac (2010). Humanizing Personhood. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):421 - 437.
Sirkku Kristiina Hellsten (2000). Towards an Alternative Approach to Personhood in the End of Life Questions. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 21 (6):515-536.
Carol A. Tauer (1985). Personhood and Human Embryos and Fetuses. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 10 (3):253-266.
Eva Feder Kittay & Licia Carlson (eds.) (2010). Cognitive Disability and its Challenge to Moral Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
Shiloh Y. Whitney (2011). Dependency Relations: Corporeal Vulnerability and Norms of Personhood in Hobbes and Kittay. Hypatia 26 (3):554-574.
Tom L. Beauchamp (1999). The Failure of Theories of Personhood. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 9 (4):309-324.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads84 ( #23,290 of 1,696,808 )
Recent downloads (6 months)16 ( #37,960 of 1,696,808 )
How can I increase my downloads?