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Nancy Jecker’s essay Nothing to be Ashamed of: Sex Robots for Older Adults with Disabilities 1 presents a provocative application of the capabilities approach. Her ethical argument for providing access to sex robots for older adults with disabilities proceeds in five parts:
Older adults frequently suffer disabilities that impair sexual functioning.
The ability to function sexually is linked to central human capabilities, including: the ability to generate a personally meaningful life narrative; be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy; experience bodily integrity; feel and express a range of human emotions; affiliate deeply with others; and reflect on and choose a plan for their life.
Society should take reasonable steps to support these human capabilities at a minimal threshold as part of a broader duty to respect human dignity.
Providing access to sex robots comprises part of reasonable efforts to support the six capabilities at a minimal threshold.
Therefore, society ought to make reasonable efforts to ensure access to sex robots for older adults with disabilities that impair sexual functioning.
I am sympathetic to this line of reasoning, having proposed a series of legal reforms that would facilitate sexual expression among older adults with cognitive impairments as well.2 3 …
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.