The Complicated Relationship of Disability and Well-Being

It is widely assumed that disability is typically a bad thing for those who are disabled. Our purpose in this essay is to critique this view and defend a more nuanced picture of the relationship between disability and well-being. We first examine four interpretations of the above view and argue that it is false on each interpretation. We then ask whether disability is thereby a neutral trait. Our view is that most disabilities are neutral in one sense, though we cannot make simple generalizations about disability's relationship to well-being in other important senses. After defending this view, we discuss its practical implications for selective abortion for disability, nondisabled people's interactions with disabled people, and the use of QALYs in health policy.