The Moral Dilemma of the Cochlear Implant

Auditory nerve damage can occur from any of a significant number of serious diseases, or can simply be passed down from father or mother to son or daughter. Deafness, in any case, results in the formation of a fascinating social anomaly, one in which one person may not even exist on the same level of perception as another person. So the social connections that would be made in a normal fashion are taken off of the table immediately. Other routes must be taken in order to form relationships and communicate. This of course resulted in the formation of sign language, which ended up enabling those that are deaf to form communities and family units. With the formation of these communities and family units comes a culture.

smiling_girl_cochlear_implant

If a baby is born without hearing, a doctor can safely give said baby a cochlear implant as early as fourteen months, which will allow the baby to progress through learning language and social interactions as normally as a baby who was born with hearing.

In the article ‘Some Ethical Dimensions of Cochlear Implantation for Deaf Children and Their Familes’, Merv Hyde and Des Power of Griffith University, Hyde and Power Explore the idea that suddenly gifting hearing back into a prelingual child disrupts the formation of that unique familial culture and that deafness is not just seen as a disease, but as a way of life. This dilemma tends to not occur in hearing families that have had a deaf baby, but creates a problem in partially or fully deaf families when the option to have the insertion done presents itself through a doctor or some other medium. The moral dilemma lies in whether denying the baby hearing is objectively wrong, or if denying the baby hearing is simply choosing for the baby to grow into a unique part of human society.

Sources: http://jdsde.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/1/102.full

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One thought on “The Moral Dilemma of the Cochlear Implant

  1. This topic is very interesting and I never considered the morality of the issue. Focusing on moral dilemmas of any issue is always very interesting since you have to consider multiple different perspectives. I can see where fully hearing families would want their child to receive the cochlear implant to be able to experience life in what they believe is normal. Also, I can understand where partially or full deaf families would be more hesitant to this procedure. I also completely agree that deafness creates its own unique culture due to its specialized way of communication through symbols. If everyone began to go through this procedure would it eventually disrupt this culture if deemed morally acceptable?

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