Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 471–487 | Cite as

On the possibility and desirability of constructing a neutral conception of disability

  • Anita Silvers


Disagreement about the properattitude toward disability proliferates. Yetlittle attention has been paid to an importantmeta-question, namely, whether ``disability'' isan essentially contested concept. If so, recentdebates between bioethicists and the disabilitymovement leadership cannot be resolved. Inthis essay I identify some of the presumptionsthat make their encounters so contentious. Much more must happen, I argue, for anydiscussions about disability policy andpolitics to be productive. Progress depends onconstructing a neutral conception ofdisability, one that neither devaluesdisability nor implies that persons withdisabilities are inadequate. So, first, I clearaway the conceptual underbrush that makes usthink our idea of disability must bevalue-laden. Second, I sketch someconstituents of, and constraints upon, aneutral notion of disability.

disability justice medical model rehabilitation species-typical functioning 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Silvers
    • 1
  1. 1.San Francisco State UniversityUSA

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