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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.
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This page is a summary of: Is Disability a Neutral Condition?, Journal of Social Philosophy, June 2016, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/josp.12147.
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