The limits of reproductive decisions

Human Studies 27 (4):417 - 427 (2004)
Abstract
In this article I will address the question of determining the moral limits of reproductive decisions. In so doing I will examine the contributions made by John Harris, who has over the years consistently addressed the ethical implications of advancing reproductive technologies. In addressing these matters, Harris has centred his arguments on the principle of harm and with this in mind has set out a specific theoretical framework from which decisions about disability and causing harm, as in the case of reproductive decisions, can be rationally addressed. This discussion will attempt to question the conceptual scheme that he proposes. The aim here is not to present an alternative theoretical contribution to the morality of reproductive choice. Rather, in the attempt to follow some of the directives in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy, the aim is to demonstrate some of the pitfalls of what Wittgenstein has described as the “craving for generality” in contemporary philosophy. I propose that this craving can distort, in this instance, our ordinary usage of concepts such as harm, suffering and disability and their role in the moral vocabulary of reproductive decision making.
Keywords ethics  harm  Harris  John  moral action  reproduction
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