‘You Say You're Happy, but…’: Contested Quality of Life Judgments in Bioethics and Disability Studies

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In this paper, I look at several examples that demonstrate what I see as a troubling tendency in much of mainstream bioethics to discount the views of disabled people. Following feminist political theorists who argue in favour of a stance of humility and sensitive inclusion for people who have been marginalized, I recommend that bioethicists adopt a presumption in favour of believing rather than discounting the claims of disabled people. By taking their claims at face value and engaging with disabled people in open dialogue over impairment and disadvantage, bioethicists may take to heart an important lesson about human fragility and resilience.

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