When Caring Is Just and Justice is Caring: Justice and Mental Retardation

Public Culture 13 (3):557-580 (2001)

Eva Kittay
State University of New York, Stony Brook
Among the various human forms alluded to in the Hebrew prayer, mental retardation appears to be one of the most difficult to celebrate. It is the disability that other disabled persons do not want attributed to them. It is the disability for which prospective parents are most likely to use selective abortion (Wertz 2000). And it is the disability that prompted one of the most illustrious United States Supreme Court Justices to endorse forced sterilization, because "three generations of imbeciles are enough." The mentally retarded have at times been objects of pity, compassion, or abuse by their caretakers and society at large. But they have rarely been seen as subjects, as citizens, as persons with equal entitlement to fulfillment.
Keywords care  disability  justice  liberalism  mental retardation
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