Experiencing disability:the right to be impaired versus the legacy of eugenics

Issue date: 29 November 2011


A public debate

Wednesday 14 December 2011, 18:30 – 20:00 The Watershed, Bristol

Should governments and public health institutions endeavour to take the direction of human evolution into our own hands? If it became feasible would it be in humanity's best interest to use genetic technology to do away with 'disability'? These are some of the questions that will be discussed at a free public debate co-organised by UWE Bristol and The Royal Institute of Philosophy on the topical subject of disability and eugenics.

UWE Bristol philosopher, Dr Darian Meacham said, “Genetic technology is still in its infancy, but its potential, or even what people think is its potential, is again raising the question of eugenics. Should biotechnology be used to try to improve the genetic composition of a population? And as importantly, who should be responsible for making decisions as to what is and what is not a desirable trait and what would 'improve' the genetic composition of a population? Should parents be allowed to genetically design their children, or does the state have a responsibility for and thus authority over the gene pool of its citizens? These questions become particularly poignant when viewed from the disability perspective. Does it devalue the lives of disabled people to support the development and use of technologies or policies that would lead to a disabled person not being born? These are questions on our near horizon, and we need to think long and hard about what we deem permissible when it comes to the use of genetic technology for eugenic purposes.”

Event Speaker, Dr Christien Van den Anker (Philosophy, UWE Bristol) will open the debate with the paper – 'Experiencing disability: the right to be impaired versus the legacy of eugenics'. The response will be delivered by Alex McKeown (Centre for Ethics in Medicine University of Bristol) before the discussion is opened up to the public.

The event is free of charge but booking is essential. To book a place e-mail: darian.meacham@uwe.ac.uk

-ENDS-

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