Speaker: Dana Howard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Center for Bioethics at the Ohio State University Medical Center
Moderator: Robert Steel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at UNO and member of the UNO Medical Humanities Faculty.
Parents of children with disabilities often share their stories to attest to the positive impact parenting such a child has had on their lives. It is important to give due respect to such testimony, but what does due respect entail? Recently Chris Kaposy has argued in “Choosing Down Syndrome,” that respect requires us to not dismiss such narratives as the result of adaptive preferences. I argue that while this is important, it is not enough.
This talk introduces a putatively problematic perspective towards this kind of parental testimony, which I call the ‘Pedestal Perspective’: When the audience is presented with the retrospective views and values of these parents, they may be tempted to interpret these parental views as an outgrowth, not of adaptive preferences, but of the parents’ extraordinary virtuous character. This talk explores what, if anything, is wrong with putting people on a pedestal and how this should influence our medical decision-making.