‘You are inferior!’ Revisiting the expressivist argument

Bioethics 31 (7):505-514 (2017)
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According to the expressivist argument the choice to use biotechnologies to prevent the birth of individuals with specific disabilities is an expression of disvalue for existing people with this disability. The argument has stirred a lively debate and has recently received renewed attention. This article starts with presenting the expressivist argument and its core elements. It then goes on to present and examine the counter-arguments before it addresses some aspects that have gained surprisingly little attention. The analysis demonstrates that the expressivist argument has a wide range of underpinnings and that counter-arguments tend to focus on only a few of these. It also reveals an important aspect that appears to have been ignored, i.e., that people do not select foetuses based on chromosomes or other biological traits, but based on characteristics of living persons with specific disabilities. This makes it more difficult to undermine the claim that negative selection of foetuses expresses a disvaluing of persons with such disabilities. It leaves the expressivist argument with a strong bite still.



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