Hillsborough Community Beneficence in Moral Response to Disability Discussion


Once again, we have a broad topic this week as we focus on moral issues regarding disability. In the interest of exploring a plurality of subjects within this topic, I’m offering several targeted questions for you to answer. Choose one of them or, if there’s another issue within the topic of disability that you’d like to discuss, please feel free to do so. Whatever question you answer, be sure to support it with moral arguments.

  • Does Laura Purdy’s argument constitute disability discrimination?
  • Was the hospitalist morally wrong to make the offer that he did to Bill Peace?
  • Should we adopt the social model of disability over the medical model?
  • Some argue that many conditions labeled as “disabilities” are in fact just different ways of being in the world that don’t need to be corrected. Can you think of any examples? Do you agree?
  • Some argue that, when something is experienced as a disability, it is because society has not been structured to accommodate that way of being in the world. In such cases, should our aim be to “fix” the disability to fit into the parameters of society, or should we aim to restructure society to be more inclusive of different ways of being? Some examples could be helpful here. 
  • After thinking about this subject, and particularly after reading Bill Peace’s article, can you identify any of your own past comments or behavior as ableist? What do you think influenced your way of thinking in those moments?
  • The four foundational moral principles of bioethics are: autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Choose one of these principles and offer concrete examples of ways we would apply them in our moral response to disability.
  • Feel free to bring in a topic of your choosing relating to moral issues regarding disability.

Step 1: Your Initial Post – Respond to the question of your choosing (or construct your own). Be sure to give clear moral arguments for your view, with premises supporting your conclusion. Concrete examples can be very helpful in illustrating your position.

Disability is a tricky term. Not everyone agrees on what it means, or what constitutes a disability. Some argue we shouldn’t use the term at all, while others feel it’s a valuable marker of identity. Some common ways of classifying different types of disability include:

  • sensory
  • intellectual
  • physical
  • psychological
  • neurological
  • chronic illness

When studying moral issues involving disability, here are some (there are others) important principles, values, and concepts to keep in mind:

  • medical model of disability
  • social model of disability
  • justice
  • equal access
  • impairment
  • ableism
  • healthy disability
  • unhealthy disability
  • quality of life
  • procreative beneficence