What is wrong with 'wrongful life' cases?

N. K. Bell, Barry Loewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


'Wrongful life' torts raise a number of interesting and perplexing philosophical issues. In a suit for 'wrongful life', the plaintiff (usually an infant) brings an action (usually against a physician) claiming that some negligent action has caused the plaintiff's life, say by not informing the parents of the likely prospect that their child would be born with severe defects. The most perplexing feature of this is that the plaintiff is claiming that he would have been better off if he had never been born. A number of arguments have appeared which purport to show that "wrongful life' claims should not be allowed, either because it is senseless to claim that one would be better off if one had not existed or that it is impossible to assess the extent to which someone has been damaged by being brought into existence. In our paper we rebut these arguments and suggest a procedure for determining damages in 'wrongful life cases'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-145
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy

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  • Cite this

    Bell, N. K., & Loewer, B. (1985). What is wrong with 'wrongful life' cases? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 10(2), 127-145.