Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Focusing only on logic doesn't value all people

The New Scientist has a special report on reason, with an essay by British disability studies scholar Tom Shakespeare. He explains the problems that arise when people focus only on logic and reason:

I find the utilitarian bioethics of a Peter Singer at Princeton University (or a Julian
at the University of Oxford) to be a powerful example of what goes wrong when we value logic and consistency above wisdom and pragmatism. It may be "rational" to try everything to avoid having a disabled child – or even to kill a newborn with disabilities – to avoid the burden of care or the suffering of a difficult life. But a world ruled by such cold moral arithmetic would not be one in which I would like to live.

Disability is part of the human condition: we are all impaired and will all become more so. We must accept disability as part of the diversity of embodiment, not seek to eliminate it at all costs. As Immanuel Kant wrote: "From the crooked timber of humanity nothing straight was ever made."