Julian Savulescu, "Disability and Mere Difference"


Thursday, October 22, 2015, 5:00pm to 6:30pm


Emerson Hall 210, Harvard Yard

"Some disability activists argue that disability is merely a difference. It is often objected that this view has unacceptable implications, implying, for example, that it's permissible to cause disability. Recently, Elizabeth Barnes has argued against this objection, making a case that viewing disability as a difference needn’t entail such implications, and further, that seeing such implications as unacceptable is question-begging. We argue that Barnes misconstrues this objection to the mere difference view of disability: it’s not question-begging to regard its implications as unacceptable, and the limited grounds that Barnes offers for potentially blocking some of them anyway fail to explain our conviction that it’s impermissible to cause disability."

This lecture is part of a series of events cosponsored by the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.  

Professor Julian Savulescu holds the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. He holds degrees in medicine, neuroscience and bioethics. He is the Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics within the Faculty of Philosophy. He is Director of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, which is one of three strategic centres in biomedical ethics in the UK funded by the Wellcome Trust, and was recently awarded their flagship Senior Investigator Awards. He is also Director of the Institute for Science and Ethics within the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, and of The Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease. 

He is a leader in medical and practical ethics. He is Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics and founding editor of Journal of Practical Ethics, an open access journal in Practical Ethics He is author of over 250 publications. He has an H index of 45 and 142 publications cited at least ten times. He has given over 120 invited international presentations and over 280 in total. In 2014, he was awarded Doctoris Honoris Causa by the University of Bucharest. He is Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Professor at Monash University and Honorary Professorial at the Florey Neuroscience Institute.