This paper concerns the question of what makes disability discrimination morally objectionable. When I refer to disability discrimination, I am focusing solely on a failure or denial of reasonable accommodations to a disabled person. I argue a failure to provide reasonable accommodations is wrong when and because it violates principles of relational equality. To do so, I examine four accounts of wrongful discrimination found in the literature and apply these theories to disability discrimination. I argue that all of these accounts (...) leave us wanting because they have implausible implications or other limitations. I then defend my relational egalitarian theory of wrongful disability discrimination. I argue why principles of relational equality can explain the wrongness of failing to accommodate a disabled person. I will then illustrate how my account can identify plausible instances of disability discrimination while avoiding implausible implications. Finally, I discuss some further complications with my account while highlighting its benefits. Importantly, my argument can capture the distinctive wrongness of disability law and policy’s reasonable accommodation mandates. (shrink)
People with disabilities suffer from pervasive inequalities in employment, education, transportation, housing, and health care compared to those who are not disabled. Moreover, people with disabilities are often subject to unjustified stigma and pity. In this paper, I will explain why these disadvantages violate relational egalitarian principles of justice. As I will show, my argument can account for both kinds of inequality that disabled people face.
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. (shrink)
This paper concerns what if any obligations a “society of equals” has to criminal offenders after legal punishment ends. In the United States, when people leave prisons, they are confronted with a wide range of federal, state, and local laws that burden their ability to secure welfare benefits, public housing, employment opportunities, and student loans. Since the 1980s, these legal consequences of criminal convictions have steadily increased in their number, severity, and scope. The central question I want to ask is (...) whether the infliction of these burdensome legal consequences for those who have already been punished by the state is consistent with the ideal of equality. I argue that these collateral legal consequences violate relational egalitarian principles of justice and are thus objectionable. I conclude by examining possible objections to my argument. (shrink)
Paul B. Thompson’s From the Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone explains the growing number of ways that food connects to ethical questions concerning our consumption, production, storage, and distribution of food. Although this book serves as an introduction to food ethics for non-experts, professionals in agricultural science and food production, food activists, and philosophers will have a lot to learn from Thompson’s insight, careful argumentation, and mastery of the economic, scientific, and political issues that ground our current debates (...) about food. In my comments, I will first briefly provide an overview of Thompson’s thoughtful book. I will explain the methodology employed in this book and how his methodology applies to specific philosophical questions within food ethics. I will focus my commentary on how Thompson frames the ethics of diet and obesity. I will then raise a few questions concerning food choice and paternalism that were omitted from this book, but that I think raise substantial ethical concerns in affluent countries. I will close with a very brief comment on Thompson’s methodology. (shrink)
This article develops an analysis of disability according to which disabling conditions are properties of organisms embedded in sets of environments. We begin by presenting the three mainstream accounts of disability—the medical, social, and interactionist models—and rehearsing some known limitations. We argue that, because of their primary focus on etiology, all three models share, more or less implicitly, a problematic assumption. This is the tenet that disabilities are individual properties. The second part of the essay presents an “ecological” interpretation of (...) disability, inspired by classic and contemporary research on biological niches. Our proposal preserves many insights underlying extant approaches, while allowing a more accurate characterization of the nature and experience of disability. We conclude by drawing some general implications of our analysis. (shrink)