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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues for a normative distinction between disabilities that are inherently negative with respect to well-being and disabilities that are inherently neutral. After clarifying terms, the author discusses recent arguments according to which possession of a disability is inherently neutral with respect to well-being. He notes that although these arguments are compelling, they are only intended to cover certain disabilities and, in fact, that there exists a broad class regarding which they do not apply. He then discusses two problem cases: locked-in syndrome and the minimally conscious state, and explains why these are cases in which possession of these disabilities makes one worse off overall. He argues that disabilities that significantly impair control over one’s situation tend to be inherently negative with respect to well-being; other disabilities do not. The upshot is that we must draw an important normative distinction between disabilities that undermine this kind of control and disabilities that do not.

Keywords: well-being, locked-in syndrome, minimally conscious state, control, disability

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