Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 157–167 | Cite as

Choosing for the child with cochlear implants: a note of precaution

  • Patrick Kermit
Scientific Contribution


Recent contributions to discussions on paediatric cochlear implantation in Norway indicate two mutually exclusive doctrines prescribing the best course of post-operative support for a child with cochlear implants; bilingually with sign language and spoken language simultaneously or primarily monolingually with speech only. This conflict constitutes an ethical problem for parents responsible for choosing between one of the two alternatives. This article puts forth the precautionary principle as a possible solution to this problem. Although scientific uncertainty exists in the case of both doctrines, there exists a scenario of possible irreversible harm to some of the children habilitated monolingually. An application of the precautionary principle may hence suggest that it is rational to agree on the bilingual approach, at least for the time-being.


Children Ethics Deafness Habilitation Cochlear implants Language 



I wish to thank Bjørn Myskja at the Department of Philosophy, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, for invaluable help with writing this text. I also want to thank both Berge Solberg, Department of Social Work and Health Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Sidsel Holiman, Department of Educational Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, for their help and comments.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Work and Health ScienceNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Sør-Trøndelag University CollegeTrondheimNorway

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