Causing Disability, Causing Non-Disability: What's the Moral Difference?

In Adam Cureton & David Wasserman (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Disability. Oxford University Press. pp. 138-57 (2020)
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Abstract

It may seem obvious that causing disability in another person is morally problematic in a way that removing or preventing a disability is not. This suggests that there is a moral asymmetry between causing disability and causing non-disability. This chapter investigates whether there are any differences between these two types of actions that might explain the existence of a general moral asymmetry. After setting aside the possibility that having a disability is almost always bad or harmful for a person (a view that we have critiqued at length elsewhere), seven putative differences are considered. Ultimately, it is concluded that none of these seven factors can ground a general moral asymmetry between causing disability and causing non-disability, though each factor can provide some moral reason to avoid causing disability in certain particular cases.

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Stephen M. Campbell
Bentley University

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