A natural alliance against a common foe? Opponents of enhancement and the social model of disability

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It may appear that there are grounds for an alliance between opponents of enhancement and disability advocates. People from both camps condemn parents who aspire to improve the physical and psychological traits their children would otherwise be born with, a condemnation often expressed as an accusation of eugenics. Despite these superficial appearances, the author will argue that disability advocates have nothing to applaud in Michael Sandel’s critique of enhancement, which is based on false and sometimes pernicious claims about the value of ‘normal’ human beings. However, they will also argue that disability advocates fail to provide convincing reasons for condemning parental decisions to avoid or eliminate certain traits their children would otherwise be born with. Contrary to what disability advocates and opponents of enhancement suggest, it is often a violation rather than an instantiation of parental virtue to abandon judgements about whether one’s children’s biological givens should be changed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ethics of Human Enhancement:
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding the Debate
EditorsSteve Clarke, Julian Savulescu, C. A. J. Coady, Alberto Giubilini, Sagar Sanyal
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780198754855
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • enhancement
  • Michael Sandel
  • ‘normal’ human beings
  • Social Model of Disability
  • disability advocates

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