Chapter 3. Developmental Perspective on the Emergence of Moral Personhood

  1. Eva Feder Kittay Distinguished Professor senior fellow2 and
  2. Licia Carlson Ph.D. assistant professor3
  1. James C. Harris M.D. professor member

Published Online: 18 AUG 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444322781.ch3

Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy

Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy

How to Cite

Harris, J. C. (2010) Developmental Perspective on the Emergence of Moral Personhood, in Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy (eds E. F. Kittay and L. Carlson), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444322781.ch3

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Stony Brook University/SUNY, USA

  2. 3

    Providence College, USA

Author Information

  1. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 AUG 2010
  2. Published Print: 14 MAY 2010

Book Series:

  1. Metaphilosophy Series in Philosophy

Book Series Editors:

  1. Armen T. Marsoobian,
  2. Brian J. Huschle and
  3. Eric Cavallero

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405198288

Online ISBN: 9781444322781



  • developmental perspective - on emergence of moral personhood;
  • attitudes toward intellectual disability - compassionate concern to ostracism and neglect;
  • involuntary euthanasia in Germany - eliminating “life unworthy of life”;
  • persons diagnosed with intellectual disability - obstacles in one's lifetime and limitations in adaptive abilities;
  • perinatal causes, linked to birth injury - physical causes or metabolic ones;
  • American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR);
  • Bell Curve and IQ - levels of intellectual disability;
  • cognitive developmental thresholds;
  • intellectual disability and brain fluid and crystallized intelligence;
  • implications of recognizing personhood and autonomy


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Definition of Disability

  • Causes of Intellectual Impairment

  • Evolving Terminology for Intellectual Impairment

  • The Bell Curve and IQ: Levels of Intellectual Disability

  • Cognitive Developmental Thresholds

  • Intellectual Disability and the Brain: Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence

  • Neuroplasticity in Brain Development

  • Developmental Perspective on Intellectual Disability: Cognitive Developmental Thresholds

  • Moral Development

  • Implications of Recognizing Personhood and Autonomy

  • Participation in Research

  • Summary

  • References