The Competence of the Mildly Retarded

  • Ruth Macklin
  • Willard Gaylin
Part of the The Hastings Center Series in Ethics book series (HCSE)


Freedom of choice, or self-determination, for rational adults is a value that lies at the center of our moral tradition. This value, however, only began to occupy center stage in the Western world during the early seventeenth century. The Greeks did not have anything like our notion of the importance of the individual; their moral and political theories focused on the community and on a balance of interests and institutions within the larger society. Although the Greeks did have a well-developed theory of virtue, which applied at the individual level, they did not emphasize the concept of rights as we commonly use it to apply to individual needs, wants, or deserts. But the rise of the ideology of individualism brought along with it the notion of rights—beginning with property rights—and also the concept of individual liberty.


Civil Liberty Mental Capacity Normal Intelligence Relativistic View Individual Liberty 
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Copyright information

© The Hastings Center 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Macklin
    • 1
  • Willard Gaylin
    • 2
  1. 1.Albert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  2. 2.The Hastings CenterHastings-on-HudsonUSA

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