Philosophy of Disability as Critical Diversity Studies

Shelley Tremain
York University (PhD)
Critical diversity studies (CDS) can be found within “traditional,” or “established,” university disciplines, such as philosophy, as well as in relatively newer departments of the university, such as African studies departments, women’s and gender studies departments, and disability studies departments. In this article, therefore, I explain why philosophy of disability, an emerging subfield in the discipline of philosophy, should be recognized as an emerging area of CDS also. My discussion in the article situates philosophy of disability in CDS by both distinguishing this new subfield’s claims about disability from the arguments about disability that mainstream philosophers make and identifying the assumptions about social construction and antiessentialism that philosophy of disability shares with other areas of CDS. The discussion is designed to show that a (feminist) philosophy of disability that draws upon the work of Michel Foucault will transform how philosophers understand the situation of disabled people. By drawing upon Foucault, that is, I offer philosophers of disability and other practitioners of CDS a new understanding of disability as an apparatus of power relations.
Keywords Philosophy of Disability  mainstream analytic political philosophy  Foucault  John Rawls  feminist philosophy of disability  apparatus of disability
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