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Disability, equality, and future generations

Mosquera, J. (2017) Disability, equality, and future generations. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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This thesis is an evaluation of the badness of disability and equality. It argues that disability poses a problem for equality and that, given the new advances in reproductive and gene technologies, egalitarians should strive to give an answer to how we should best reduce the inequality between disabled and non-disabled individuals of future generations. To support the claim that disabilities pose a problem for equality, I argue against the recently proposed Mere Difference View of disability. Firstly, the view is not successful in responding to why, if disabilities are neutral, inflicting disability is still impermissible. Secondly, some intellectual disabilities, for example, do not bring about positive features capable of compensating for the negative features that they also bring about. If some disabilities are bad states of being, some disabled individuals will be worse off than non-disabled individuals other things being equal. Given that disabled individuals are subject to inequality due to their disability, I analyse how able traditional compensatory accounts of egalitarian justice are when it comes to improving this inequality. I conclude that given the existence of intellectual disabilities, traditional compensatory accounts are not fully satisfactory and that egalitarians should look at whether other means, like enhancements and preventive techniques, would do this job better. Paradoxically, techniques that lead to the reduction in the incidence of disabilities make things worse with respect to one new aspect of inequality, namely the concentration of inequality. In scenarios of disability reduction, where there are only a few remaining disabled individuals and a great number of non-disabled individuals, disabled individuals would be worse off than a great number of non-disabled individuals. This situation can potentially also have a negative impact in the wellbeing of the few remaining disabled individuals if the fact that disabled individuals become a very small minority puts less pressure in society to accommodate them. I conclude that reducing the incidence of disabilities can make things worse for inequality in at least one respect. This conclusion has crucial consequences for policy making. I recognise that the question remains about how this aspect should be weighed against the fact that scenarios of disability reduction promote utility - they contain more individuals with higher wellbeing - and against the fact that, under views that ascribe positive value to relations of equality, scenarios of disability reduction would also be, in one way, promoters of equality

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Hooker, B. and Tomlin, P.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Philosophy
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:75275

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