A Moorean argument for the full moral status of those with profound intellectual disability

Curtis, B. ORCID: 0000-0001-8433-9201 and Vehmas, S., 2016. A Moorean argument for the full moral status of those with profound intellectual disability. Journal of Medical Ethics, 42 (1), pp. 41-45. ISSN 0306-6800

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This paper is about the moral status of those human beings with profound intellectual disabilities (PIDs). We hold the common sense view that they have equal status to 'normal' human beings, and a higher status than any non-human animal. We start with an admission, however: we don’t know how to give a fully satisfying theoretical account of the grounds of moral status that explains this view. And in fact, not only do we not know how to give such an account, but the most satisfying account of moral status that we know (which we call 'the standard account') entails that our view is false. It entails that those with PIDs have a lower status than ordinary human beings and an equal status to non-human animals. Now, in this paper, we do absolutely nothing to try to show where the standard account goes wrong, and we do absolutely nothing to resolve the difficulties we see in developing an alternative account that supports our view. Indeed, we do not give any argument against the standard account or in favour of our own view. Instead, we raise the following question: in order to be justified in continuing to hold our view, are we obliged to give such an account? Our answer will be that we are not.
In section 1 we emphasise just how common our view is, and how deeply held it is, before outlining the difficulties surrounding giving a theoretical account that justifies it. After introducing the Moorean strategy in section 2, in section 3 we argue that despite these difficulties, and despite the fact that we do not know how to overcome them, it is not the case that we ought to abandon our view. The Moorean strategy we employ is drawn from a common interpretation of G. E. Moore's famous proof of the external world (due to William Lycan). Our argument is that the strategy that Lycan's Moore applies in that case can be successfully applied in the case of our view too.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Medical Ethics
Creators: Curtis, B. and Vehmas, S.
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Date: 2016
Volume: 42
Number: 1
ISSN: 0306-6800
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 16 Jan 2017 14:25
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2017 11:04
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/29719

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