Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Breaking Bioethics Special Section: In Pursuit of Perfect People: The Ethics of Enhancement

Normal Functioning and the Treatment-Enhancement Distinction

a1 Philosophy Department, at Tufts University and the National Cancer Policy Board


The treatment-enhancement distinction draws a line between services or interventions meant to prevent or cure (or otherwise ameliorate) conditions that we view as diseases or disabilities and interventions that improve a condition that we view as a normal function or feature of members of our species. The line drawn here is widely appealed to in medical practice and medical insurance contexts, as well as in our everyday thinking about the medical services we do and should assist people in obtaining.