Citation

Who Should We Create? An Aristotelian Approach to the Ethics of Reproduction

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Abstract:

I explore how a concern for the rights of future people should influence public policies regulating reproduction, as well as the morality of choosing to bring someone into existence. I focus on the concept of human flourishing one finds in Aristotle and Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum’s “capabilities approach.” First, I survey a number of prominent arguments about the morality of abortion, and I conclude that, while it may be a vehicle for personal or societal vices, there is little support for the belief that abortion is inherently wrong. Rather than making an argument under the traditional pro-life and pro-choice headings, I discuss abortion as it relates to the fundamental entitlements of the future person who will or will not come into existence. This involves an examination of landmark court cases on infanticide and abortion, as well as an analysis of the concept of personhood. I begin by discussing “wrongful life” lawsuits, in which a child files a claim stating that coming into existence disabled is a compensable tort. This raises interesting philosophical questions, for if a person must be made worse off in order to be harmed, one cannot be harmed by coming into existence disabled, since one otherwise would not exist. My argument is that we should not create people whose right to a “truly human” life is congenitally infringed. Rather than focusing on severe congenital defects, I concentrate on the ethics of creating people with more moderate congenital conditions, such as deafness. Should this be construed as a harmful practice? This is a particularly relevant issue, for many disabled people use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and in vitro fertilization to design children to have conditions commonly considered to be “disabilities.” The concepts of disability and disadvantage merit significant analysis in order to understand the duties moral parents and liberal governments have to the people they permit to be created. For example, it is essential to differentiate between conditions that are disabling for internal reasons (physiological deficiencies from the “species-norm”) and congenital traits that may be disabling for wholly external reasons (such as one’s sex or race, if one lives in a sexist or racist society). Finally, I discuss genetic screening not by way of eliminating negative traits but by fostering positive ones. While there are a number of legitimate societal concerns that must be considered about genetic enhancement, I conclude that a concern for human flourishing gives us reason to foster a number of positive traits, such as a sunny disposition or good impulse control. My submission for the LSA conference is part of the broader project I am pursuing in my dissertation, “Rethinking the Sanctity of Life at the Margins of Existence,” in which I claim it is imperative to have a concept of the sanctity of life acceptable both to the secular and religious. I claim an analysis of Aristotle, the capabilities approach, and human flourishing provides this critical bridge necessary to facilitate bioethical, moral, and political discussions about reproduction between the secular and religious.
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Association:
Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p559202_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Haqq, Luke. "Who Should We Create? An Aristotelian Approach to the Ethics of Reproduction" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort, Honolulu, HI, Jun 03, 2012 <Not Available>. 2014-12-12 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p559202_index.html>

APA Citation:

Haqq, L. I. , 2012-06-03 "Who Should We Create? An Aristotelian Approach to the Ethics of Reproduction" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort, Honolulu, HI <Not Available>. 2014-12-12 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p559202_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: I explore how a concern for the rights of future people should influence public policies regulating reproduction, as well as the morality of choosing to bring someone into existence. I focus on the concept of human flourishing one finds in Aristotle and Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum’s “capabilities approach.” First, I survey a number of prominent arguments about the morality of abortion, and I conclude that, while it may be a vehicle for personal or societal vices, there is little support for the belief that abortion is inherently wrong. Rather than making an argument under the traditional pro-life and pro-choice headings, I discuss abortion as it relates to the fundamental entitlements of the future person who will or will not come into existence. This involves an examination of landmark court cases on infanticide and abortion, as well as an analysis of the concept of personhood. I begin by discussing “wrongful life” lawsuits, in which a child files a claim stating that coming into existence disabled is a compensable tort. This raises interesting philosophical questions, for if a person must be made worse off in order to be harmed, one cannot be harmed by coming into existence disabled, since one otherwise would not exist. My argument is that we should not create people whose right to a “truly human” life is congenitally infringed. Rather than focusing on severe congenital defects, I concentrate on the ethics of creating people with more moderate congenital conditions, such as deafness. Should this be construed as a harmful practice? This is a particularly relevant issue, for many disabled people use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and in vitro fertilization to design children to have conditions commonly considered to be “disabilities.” The concepts of disability and disadvantage merit significant analysis in order to understand the duties moral parents and liberal governments have to the people they permit to be created. For example, it is essential to differentiate between conditions that are disabling for internal reasons (physiological deficiencies from the “species-norm”) and congenital traits that may be disabling for wholly external reasons (such as one’s sex or race, if one lives in a sexist or racist society). Finally, I discuss genetic screening not by way of eliminating negative traits but by fostering positive ones. While there are a number of legitimate societal concerns that must be considered about genetic enhancement, I conclude that a concern for human flourishing gives us reason to foster a number of positive traits, such as a sunny disposition or good impulse control. My submission for the LSA conference is part of the broader project I am pursuing in my dissertation, “Rethinking the Sanctity of Life at the Margins of Existence,” in which I claim it is imperative to have a concept of the sanctity of life acceptable both to the secular and religious. I claim an analysis of Aristotle, the capabilities approach, and human flourishing provides this critical bridge necessary to facilitate bioethical, moral, and political discussions about reproduction between the secular and religious.


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