Sawyier Philosophy Lecture in Science, Technology, and Society: Why Not Engineer Normality in Children?

Join Professor Alice Dreger on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. in the E1 Auditorium for the Sawyier Philosophy Lecture in Science, Technology, and Society. Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, will give a talk titled, “Why Not Engineer Normality in Children?”

Pediatric specialists often see “abnormality” in children as an opportunity to intervene: conjoined twins are separated; cleft lips repaired; short children put on growth hormone; and atypical genitals made to look more like standard male or female types. These interventions are done out of a charitable instinct, chiefly out of the assumption that the social stigma that can attend these atypical anatomies will cause lasting harm to a child.

So what’s wrong—philosophically—with this approach? This lecture—given by a medical historian who has worked for 20 years to help pediatricians make their practices more rational and more just—will explore that question by considering what these “normalizations” do to individual patients, families, the profession of medicine, and democracy.

Refreshments will be served at 2 p.m.