Friday, November 24, 2006

"Deaf culture" impairing life for young deaf?

From the latest New Scientist comes this news:
Ear implant success sparks culture war: Is sign language doomed to extinction? New research shows that profoundly deaf children who are given cochlear implants before their first birthday develop language and speech skills just as good as those of hearing children. But some in the deaf community maintain that the implants are killing deaf culture and that it is unethical to operate on otherwise healthy babies ...
Seems to me a complete misunderstanding of what constitutes "ethics," and from where a rational ethics is derived. If life is the standard of value by which all values and virtues derive (and that is surely the only rational basis on which to base an ethics), then cochlear implants for the young are unreservedly good. Unquestionably. Using science to advance human life in this way is unreservedly good.

Only if you base your ethics on some other irrational standard could you possibly argue it is "unethical" to give hearing to a youngster. Those arguing for the irrational are welcome to maintain their "deaf culture" for themselves, but to deprive the gift of hearing from others in the name of such a thing, to deprive a new generation of being able to hear, would itself be unethical.

LINK: Ear implant success sparks culture war - New Scientist
Cochlear implants - US FDA
Deaf pride: Spreading the word - The Lompoc Record
The reality impaired - A Writer's Life

RELATED: Ethics, Science

1 Comments:

Anonymous Doug said...

"But some in the deaf community maintain that the implants are killing deaf culture and that it is unethical to operate on otherwise healthy babies ..."

Yes, OTHERWISE healthy. Except for the fact that they are deaf. Which is a disability. Which can be medically repaired.

I'm utterly baffled by the defensiveness of the "deaf culture." Arguing against restorative surgery on these grounds seems to be a strange variety of deeply misguided tribalism.

PC, you are totally right when you say, "Using science to advance human life in this way is unreservedly good."

11/24/2006 03:49:00 pm  

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