Barnes, Elizabeth. Disability, Minority, and Difference
2009, Journal of Applied Philosophy 26(4): 337-355.
Added by: Emily Paul
Abstract: In this paper I develop a characterization of disability according to which disability is in no way a sub?optimal feature. I argue, however, that this conception of disability is compatible with the idea that having a disability is, at least in a restricted sense, a harm. I then go on to argue that construing disability in this way avoids many of the common objections leveled at accounts which claim that disability is not a negative feature.
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Comment: Really useful in an applied ethics course or, for instance, in a metaphysics course when teaching about social ontology and social constructivism. This would be a great primary or secondary reading for the latter. If being used as a primary reading, students could simply be asked as seminar preparation to summarise Barnes' argument in their own words. I think it's really important to get a good handle on, and having this question as preparation will get students thinking about it in depth beforehand. As this is quite a substantial task, it would be fine for this to be the only set question. I really think everyone should read this paper.