Profound Intellectual Disability and the Bestowment View of Moral Status

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (3):505-516 (2017)
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This article engages with debates concerning the moral worth of human beings with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMDs). Some argue that those with such disabilities are morally less valuable than so-called normal human beings, whereas others argue that all human beings have equal moral value and so each group of humans ought to be treated with equal concern. We will argue in favor of a reconciliatory view that takes points from opposing camps in the debates about the moral worth of humans with PIMDs. The view in question, roughly, is this: most humans with PIMDs are persons in the morally significant sense and so deserve equal moral consideration to so-called normal human beings. Some humans with PIMD may not, however, be persons, but nevertheless deserve equal moral consideration to persons because they stand in a special relation to persons.

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Benjamin L. Curtis
Nottingham Trent University


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