From the standpoint of disability advocacy, further exploration of the concept of well-being stands to be availing. The notion that “welfarism” about disability, which Julian Savulescu and Guy Kahane debuted, qualifies as helpful is encouraged by their claim that welfarism shares important commitments with that advocacy. As becomes clear when they apply their welfarist frame to procreative decisions, endorsing welfarism would, in fact, sharply undermine it. Savulescu and Kahane's Principle of Procreative Beneficence—which reflects transhumanism, or advocacy of radical bioenhancement—morally requires parents to choose the child who will, in all probability, have “the best life.” Assuming the emergence of potent biotechnologies, procreative decision-making would be highly standardized, for prospective parents would be morally obliged to maximize select capacities, including intelligence, self-control, and hedonic set-point, in their children. Welfarism, applied to reproduction, is staunchly objectivist about what course is incumbent on decision-makers, giving no credence to first-personal values, aspirations, and experiences. Though this dismissal of individual perspectives applies to everyone, its implications for disability advocacy are especially severe. With that advocacy in view, greater attention to “well-being” should, therefore, be severed from the welfarism of Savulescu and Kahane.
disability, human enhancement, procreation, transhumanism, welfarism, well-being
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Levin, Susan B., "A World of Difference: The Fundamental Opposition between Transhumanist “Welfarism” and Disability Advocacy" (2023). Philosophy: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.