Res Publica 23 (1):61-79 (2017)

There is a view that what we owe to other people is explained by the fact that they are human beings who share in a common human life. There are many ways of construing this explanatory idea, and I explore a few of these here; the aim is to look for constructions that contribute to an understanding of what we owe to people with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities. In exploring the idea of sharing in a common life I construe ‘sharing’ as ‘participating in’, and ‘common life’ as the social life characteristic of the environment that someone lives in. My principal purpose is to render the idea of sharing in a common life in terms that help explain its eligibility as a ground for establishing the moral status of people with PMLD. The participatory options I examine each make some call on agency, if only as something hoped for in the future, including when hope flies in the face of expectation. Accordingly I look at conceptions of actual and potential participation in social life, and at the idea of treating people as if they have the potential to participate, even when the existence of any such potential is unlikely. I conclude with some thoughts on the relation between participation and the moral status of profoundly disabled people, and about how much, and how little, the argument has achieved.
Keywords Profound disability  Moral status  Participation  Sharing in a common life
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-015-9306-x
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Eating Meat and Eating People.Cora Diamond - 1978 - Philosophy 53 (206):465 - 479.
At the Margins of Moral Personhood.Eva Kittay - 2005 - Ethics 116 (1):100-131.
“Our Fellow Creatures”.Jeff McMahan - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):353 - 380.

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