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Barnes, Elizabeth, , . Disability, Minority, and Difference
2009, Journal of Applied Philosophy 26(4): 337-355.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

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.

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.

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Chong-Ming Lim, , . Accommodating Autistics and Treating Autism: Can We Have Both?
2015, Bioethics 29(8), 1-9
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: One of the central claims of the neurodiversity movement is that society should accommodate the needs of autistics, rather than try to treat autism. People have variously tried to reject this accommodation thesis as applicable to all autistics. One instance is Pier Jaarsma and Stellan Welin, who argue that the thesis should apply to some but not all autistics. They do so via separating autistics into high‐ and low‐functioning, on the basis of IQ and social effectiveness or functionings. I reject their grounds for separating autistics. IQ is an irrelevant basis for separating autistics. Charitably rendering it as referring to more general capacities still leaves us mistaken about the roles they play in supporting the accommodation thesis. The appeal to social effectiveness or functionings relies on standards that are inapplicable to autistics, and which risks being deaf to the point of their claims. I then consider if their remaining argument concerning autistic culture may succeed independently of the line they draw. I argue that construing autistics’ claims as beginning from culture mistakes their status, and may even detract from their aims. Via my discussion of Jaarsma and Welin, I hope to point to why the more general strategy of separating autistics, in response to the accommodation thesis, does not fully succeed. Finally, I sketch some directions for future discussions, arguing that we should instead shift our attention to consider another set of questions concerning the costs and extent of change required to accommodate all autistics.

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Chong-Ming Lim, , . An Incomplete Inclusion of Non-cooperators into a Rawlsian Theory of Justice
2016, Res Philosophica 93(4), 893-920
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

John Rawls’s use of the “fully cooperating assumption” has been criticized for hindering attempts to address the needs of disabled individuals, or non-cooperators. In response, philosophers sympathetic to Rawls’s project have extended his theory. I assess one such extension by Cynthia Stark, that proposes dropping Rawls’s assumption in the constitutional stage (of his four-stage sequence), and address the needs of non-cooperators via the social minimum. I defend Stark’s proposal against criticisms by Sophia Wong, Christie Hartley, and Elizabeth Edenberg and Marilyn Friedman. Nevertheless, I argue that Stark’s proposal is crucially incomplete. Her formulation of the social minimum lacks accompanying criteria with which the adequacy of the provisions for non-cooperators may be assessed. Despite initial appearances, Stark’s proposal does not fully address the needs of non-cooperators. I conclude by considering two payoffs of identifying this lack of criteria.

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Chong-Ming Lim, , . Disabilities Are Also Legitimately Medically Interesting Constraints on Legitimate Interests
2018, Mind 127(508), 977-1002
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Added by: , Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: What is it for something to be a disability? Elizabeth Barnes, focusing on physical disabilities, argues that disability is a social category. It depends on the rules undergirding the judgements of the disability rights movement. Barnes’ account may strike many as implausible. I articulate the unease, in the form of three worries about Barnes’ account. It does not fully explain why the disability rights movement is constituted in such a way that it only picks out paradigmatic disability traits, nor why only the traits identified by the movement as constituting experiences of social and political constraint count as disability. It also leaves out the contribution of people other than disability activists, to the definition of disability. I develop Barnes’ account. On my account, a person is disabled if she is in some state which is constitutive of some constraint on her legitimate interests. This state must be the subject of legitimate medical interest and be picked out by the disability rights movement as among the traits for which they are seeking to promote progress and change. My account addresses the worries about Barnes’ account. It is also able to include all disabilities, rather than only physical ones.

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Chong-Ming Lim, , . Reviewing resistances to reconceptualizing disability
2017, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117(3), 321-331
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: I attempt to adjudicate the disagreement between those who seek to reconceptualize disability as mere difference and their opponents. I do so by reviewing a central conviction motivating the resistance, concerning the relationship between disability and well-being. I argue that the conviction depends on further considerations about the costs and extent of change involved in accommodating individuals with a particular disability trait. I conclude by considering three pay-offs of this clarification.

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