Is Disability a Neutral Condition?

Journal of Social Philosophy 47 (2):188-210 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The issue of whether biological and psychological properties associated with disability can be harmful, beneficial, or neutral brings up an important philosophical question about how we evaluate disability, and disability’s impact on well-being. The debate is usually characterized as between those who argue disability is intrinsically harmful, and disability rights advocates who argue that disability is just another way of being different, in part, because disability can also provide important benefits. I argue that this debate is a false one, as neither view can capture the more complicated relationship between disability and well-being. I argue that many disabilities are best understood as a kind of pro-tanto extrinsic harm that is characterized in counterfactual terms. This means that our judgments concerning disability and harm must be context-sensitive.

Similar books and articles

Beyond Disability?Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (2):210-228.
The Case for Conserving Disability.Rosemarie Garland-Thomson - 2012 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 9 (3):339-355.
Disability, minority, and difference.Elizabeth Barnes - 2009 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (4):337-355.
Dimensions of Disability.Simo Vehmas - 2004 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 13 (1):34-40.
Attributed disability: a spot of local difficulty.George Peat - 2006 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 12 (1):8-12.
The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability.Elizabeth Barnes - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Picturing Disability: Beggar, Freak, Citizen, and Other Photographic Rhetoric. [REVIEW]Melinda C. Hall - 2014 - Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 8 (1):121-124.
Sceptical Rationality.Jan Willem Wieland - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (1):222-238.
Debating disability.Tom Shakespeare - 2008 - Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (1):11-14.


Added to PP

532 (#32,585)

6 months
155 (#18,685)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jeff Brown
University of Northern Colorado

Citations of this work

Pornography and Dehumanization: The Essentialist Dimension.Eleonore Neufeld - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):703-717.
What is the Bad-Difference View of Disability?Thomas Crawley - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 21 (3).

Add more citations