Deaf by design: disability and impartiality

Bioethics. 2008 Sep;22(8):407-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00658.x. Epub 2008 May 8.


In 'Benefit, Disability and the Non-Identity Problem', Hallvard Lillehammer uses the case of a couple who chose to have deaf children to argue against the view that impartial perspectives can provide an exhaustive account of the rightness and wrongness of particular reproductive choices. His conclusion is that the traditional approach to the non-identity problem leads to erroneous conclusions about the morality of creating disabled children. This paper will show that Lillehammer underestimates the power of impartial perspectives and exaggerates the ethical force of partial perspectives, which in turn commits him to providing weak justifications for the choice made by the couple in his example case.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Choice Behavior / ethics*
  • Deafness / psychology*
  • Disabled Children*
  • Donor Selection / ethics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*