The future of disabilities: The ethics and politics of disability and technology

This project will investigate how theories on equality and justice are affected by the fact that many disabilities are becoming a matter of choice as a consequence of the use of new technologies.

Disability is no longer a matter of luck. Recent technological developments (cochlear implants, prenatal testing, etc) enable some disabled and their families to remove or lessen the effects of disability, sometimes before birth. Technological development might enable the removal of most disabilities soon.

This new scenario raises normative and evaluative challenges that traditional accounts of justice and equality are unfit to deal with. Since people would have the choice to avoid being disabled, responsibility-oriented accounts may disregard disability, exacerbating the burden of the most vulnerable disabled. These technologies change population patterns reducing the size of some disabled groups by decreasing the incidence of conditions (drop in Down Syndrome’s births after screening). On some measures, reducing the group’s size increases inequality, a result fully ignored despite inequality being known to be a complex phenomenon in contexts of population change. Finally, judgements on whether disabilities are good or bad drive the choice or rejection of these technologies, their public funding, and the measure of disability inequality.

The aim of this project is to contribute to the elaboration of theories of justice, equality, and of the value of disability in light of the implementation of new technologies for the disabled. A second aim is to advance a conceptual and normative framework to address the risks of their implementation, relevant for policy and public life.




Principal Investigator

Julia Mosquera PhD, Philosophy

Other project members


Riksbankens Jubileumsfond