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CANCELLED - Forever Small: Disabled Minds and Altered Bodies

The talk will explore the ethics of altering the body of a child with severe cognitive disabilities in such a way that keeps the child “forever small.”
When Jul 30, 2010
from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Where 101 Osmond Lab
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Eva Feder Kittay

Professor of Philosophy at SUNY, Stony Brook

Eva Feder Kittay is a professor of philosophy at SUNY, Stony Brook. Among her most recent major publications are “On the Margins of Moral Personhood” (Ethics, October 2005) and Blackwell Studies in Feminist Philosophy (with Linda Alcoff, 2006) and Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy (with Licia Carlson, Blackwell 2010). Her other books include Theoretical Perspectives on Dependency and Women (with Ellen Feder), 2002;Love’s Labor: Essays on Women, Equality, and Dependency 1999; Women and Moral Theory 1987, 1989Metaphor: Its Cognitive Force and Linguistic Structure, 1987, 1989;Frames, Fields and Contrasts (edited with A. Lehrer  (1992)). She has Special Issues ofHypatia: Feminism and Disability (with A. Silvers and S. Wendell); and a Special Issue of Social Theory and Practice: Embodied Values: Philosophy and Disabilities (with R. Gottlieb). She has written scores of articles in the philosophy of language, feminist philosophy and cognitive disability. She is at work on a book, tentatively entitled, A Quest for A Humbler Philosophy: Thinking about Disabled Minds and Things that Matter, which explores challenges posed by cognitive disabilities to philosophy and ethics.  She is also working on a collection of her essays on an ethics of care. She is the mother of two children, one of whom has significant cognitive impairments.

"Forever Small: Disabled Minds and Altered Bodies"

The talk will explore the ethics of altering the body of a child with severe cognitive disabilities in such a way that keeps the child “forever small.”  The parents of Ashley, a girl of six with severe cognitive and development disabilities, in collaboration with her physicians and the Hospital Ethics Committee, chose to administer growth hormones that would inhibit her growth.  They also decided on the removal of her uterus and breast buds, assuring that she would not go through the discomfort of menstruation and would not grow breasts.  In this way she would stay “forever small” and be able to be carried and handled by family members.  They claimed to do this to assure her being able to be part of family, being able to be part of family activities and being able to have familial care.  But the procedure has raised thorny ethical questions.   I wish to explore these questions philosophically by bringing to bear my own experiences as a mother of a grown daughter with severe cognitive impairments.  The alternate title for this paper would be: My Daughter’s Body.

 

This is part of the Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute.