David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Law and Philosophy 28 (1):1 - 57 (2009)
The issue of wrongful disability arises when parents face the choice whether to produce a child whose life will be unavoidably flawed by a serious disease or disorder (Down syndrome, for example, or Huntington’s disease) yet clearly worth living. The authors of From Chance to Choice claim, with certain restrictions, that the choice to produce such a child is morally wrong. They then argue that an intuitive moral approach––a “person-affecting” approach that pins wrongdoing to the harming of some existing or future person––cannot account for that wrong since the choice to produce such a child cannot, under the logic of the nonidentity problem, harm that child. The authors propose that we supplement the person-affecting approach with an “impersonal” principle that takes the form of their well-known principle N. In this paper, I argue that the authors are mistaken to suppose that a plausibly articulated person-affecting approach cannot account for the wrong of wrongful disability. We can retain an intuitive, comparative, “worse for” account of harm and still identify serious harms imposed by the choice of wrongful disability. In particular, I argue that harm, both to the impaired child and to others, comes not in the form of that procreative choice’s procreative effect but rather in the form of its many distributive effects. I also argue that the rare, residual case in which a person-affecting approach would approve of the choice of wrongful disability does not function as a counterexample to that approach. As a separate matter, I address legal claims for wrongful disability, which are closely akin to claims for wrongful life. The legal claim is brought by the impaired child, not against the parents, but rather against health care providers whose negligent failure to diagnose or inform parents of an increased risk of a genetic or congenital impairment results in the birth of the impaired child. The authors’ treatment of the moral wrong that is done as impersonal in nature suggests that courts are correct to dismiss any such claim. Once we identify harm, however, the person-affecting approach can identify a clear foundation in the law for the wrongful disability claim.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|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
Nicholas Vrousalis (2013). Smuggled Into Existence: Nonconsequentialism, Procreation, and Wrongful Disability. [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):589-604.
Fabio Bacchini (2012). Individuals, Humanity, and Reproductive Medicine. New Bioethics: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Biotechnology and the Body 18 (2):101-114.
Similar books and articles
Alicia R. Ouellette, Insult to Injury: A Disability-Sensitive Response to Professor Smolensky's Call for Parental Tort Liability for Preimplantation Genetic Interventions.
Mianna Lotz (2011). Rethinking Procreation: Why It Matters Why We Have Children. Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (2):105-121.
E. Haavi Morreim (1988). The Concept of Harm Reconceived: A Different Look at Wrongful Life. [REVIEW] Law and Philosophy 7 (1):3 - 33.
Josh Parsons (2003). Why the Handicapped Child Case is Hard. Philosophical Studies 112 (2):147 - 162.
Barry M. Loewer (1985). What is Wrong with 'Wrongful Life' Cases? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 10 (2):127-146.
Nancy S. Jecker (1987). The Ascription of Rights in Wrongful Life Suits. Law and Philosophy 6 (2):149 - 165.
Bonnie Steinbock & Ron McClamrock (1994). When Is Birth Unfair to the Child? Hastings Center Report 24 (6):15-21.
Julian Savulescu & Guy Kahane (2009). The Moral Obligation to Create Children with the Best Chance of the Best Life. Bioethics 23 (5):274-290.
Ron McClamrock (1994). When Is Birth Unfair to the Child? Hastings Center Report 24 (6):15-21.
David K. Chan (2007). Wrongful Life, Wrongful Disability, and the Argument Against Cloning. Journal of Philosophical Research 32 (Supplement):257-272.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads49 ( #36,307 of 1,101,815 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #191,891 of 1,101,815 )
How can I increase my downloads?