Arguing about Disability: Philosophical Perspectives, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Arguing about Disability

Philosophical Perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Kristjana Kristiansen, Simo Vehmas, Tom Shakespeare


224 pages

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Paperback: 9780415588539
pub: 2010-07-13
Hardback: 9780415455954
pub: 2008-10-16
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pub: 2008-10-27
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Disability is a thorny and muddled concept - especially in the field of disability studies - and social accounts contest with more traditional biologically based approaches in highly politicized debates. Sustained theoretical scrutiny has sometimes been lost amongst the controversy and philosophical issues have often been overlooked in favour of the sociological. Arguing about Disability fills that gap by offering analysis and debate concerning the moral nature of institutions, policy and practice, and their significance for disabled people and society.

This pioneering collection is divided into three sections covering definitions and theories of disability; disabled people in society and applied ethics. Each contributor – drawn from a wide range of academic backgrounds including disability studies, sociology, psychology, education, philosophy, law and health science – uses a philosophical framework to explore a central issue in disability studies. The issues discussed include personhood, disability as a phenomenon, social justice, discrimination and inclusion.

Providing an overview of the intersection of disability studies and philosophical ethics, Arguing about Disability is a truly interdisciplinary undertaking. It will be invaluable for all academics and students with an interest in disability studies or applied ethics, as well as disability activists.


'Arguing About Disability is one of the first books to attempt to bring together philosophy and disability and in so doing examine the complexity of disability. This important and comprehensive collection explores disability from a range of theoretical perspectives including the ontology of disability - how liberty, justice, equality and disability are linked, as well as ethics and disability - and gives new insights into current debates on disability. This collection is a welcome contribution to the maturing of disability studies and clearly shows the invaluable contribution that philosophy can make to debates on disability and disability research…'--Nick Watson, University of Glasgow

'A rich collection of new insights from scholars in philosophy, bioethics, social science, law, disability studies and special education.'--Journal of Medical Ethics

'Anyone with any philosophical background who is interested in the field of disability studies, whether or not they count themselves as philosophers, ought to read [this book], and to engage with its arguments.'--Peter Herissone-Kelly, Metapsychology Online Reviews (2009)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Unavoidable Alliance of Disability Studies and Philosophy - Simo Vehmas, Kristjana Kristiansen and Tom Shakespeare Part 1: Metaphysics 1. Social Justice and Disability: Competing Interpretations of the Medical and Social Models - Steven R. Smith 2. Definitions of Disability: Ethical and Other Values - Steven D. Edwards 3. The Ontology of Disability and Impairment: A Discussion of the Natural and Social Features - Simo Vehmas and Pekka Mäkelä 4. Disability and the Thinking Body - Jackie Leach Scully Part 2: Political Philosophy 1. Personhood and the Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities: A Recognition-Theoretical Approach - Heikki Ikäheimo 2. Disability and Freedom - Richard Hull 3. Disability, Non-Talent and Distributive Justice - Jerome E. Bickenbach 4. Us Against Them? The Moral Underpinnings of Community Thinking - Tuija Takala Part 3: Ethics 1. Cochlear Implants, Linguistic Rights, and ‘Open Future’ Arguments - Patrick Kermit 2. The Moral Contestedness of Selecting ‘Deaf Embryos’ - Matti Häyry 3. The Role of Medical Experts in Shaping Disability Law - Lindsey Brown 4. Prenatal Screening for Down Syndrome: Why We Shouldn’t? - Berge Solberg 5. Biopolitics and Bare Life: Does the Impaired Body Provide Contemporary Examples of Homo Sacer? - Donna Reeve

About the Editors

Kristjana Kristiansen is Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.

Simo Vehmas is Professor at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Tom Shakespeare is Research Fellow at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute (PEALS), Newcastle University, UK.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery
PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / People with Disabilities