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Disability, gene therapy and eugenics - a challenge to John Harris
  1. Solveig Magnus Reindal
  1. University of Oslo, Norway


    This article challenges the view of disability presented by Harris in his article, “Is gene therapy a form of eugenics?”1 It is argued that his definition of disability rests on an individual model of disability, where disability is regarded as a product of biological determinism or “personal tragedy” in the individual. Within disability theory this view is often called “the medical model” and it has been criticised for not being able to deal with the term “disability”, but only with impairment. The individual model of disability presupposes a necessary causal link between a certain condition in the individual and disablement. The shortcomings of such a view of disability are stated and it is argued that in order to have an adequate ethical discourse on gene therapy perspectives from disability research need to be taken into consideration.

    • Disability theory
    • gene therapy
    • eugenics

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    • Solveig Magnus Reindal, PhD, is a Research Fellow in the Department of Special Education, University of Oslo, Norway. Her research interests are in the philosophy of special needs education.