Publication details

The Moral Status of Selecting for Deafness



Year of publication 2022
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Modern reproductive technologies offer prospective parents unprecedented opportunities in selecting their children’s characteristics. One of the most controversial cases in recent years has been the decision of some deaf couples to use IVF and PGD to select a genetically deaf embryo in order to have a deaf child. Although the decision sparked a strong negative response from the hearing majority, the advocates provide some thought-provoking arguments to the effect that such practice is not immoral. These arguments force us to consider the relative costs and benefits of being deaf, the nature of disability and culture, the capacity of the community to take care of the needs and desires of their members, and parents’ obligations to society in making procreative decisions. Advocates of selecting for deafness maintain that a close inspection of these aspects reveals that the practice is not morally wrong. Further, using the non-identity problem, they argue that the selected child cannot possibly be harmed by the decision. In my talk, I will assess these claims and argue that a) none of the major arguments presented by the advocates establish conclusively that the practice is not immoral and b) that the practice is immoral because it is an instance of ‘imposed dependence’. In response to the non-identity-based argument, I will suggest that some theories of personal identity may offer the resources to tackle the problem.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info