Disability, Humanity, and Personhood: A Survey of Moral Concepts
Ralston, D. Christopher
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2007 November-December; 32(6): 619-633
Three of the articles included in this issue of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy - Ron Amundson and Shari Tresky's "On a Bioethical Challenge to Disability Rights"; Rachel Cooper's "Can It Be a Good Thing to Be Deaf?"; and Mark T. Brown's "The Potential of the Human Embryo" - interact (in various ways) with the concepts of disability, humanity, and personhood and their normative dimensions. As one peruses these articles, it becomes apparent that terms like "disability," "human being," and "person" carry with them great normative significance. There is, however, much disagreement concerning both the definition and the extension of such terms. This is significant because different terms and definitions are associated with different sets of normative requirements. In what follows we reconstruct the argument of each of the articles, and then offer some brief critical analysis intended to stimulate further thought about and discussion of the issues that each raises.