Disability, Love, And Limitation: A Response To The Mere-Difference View
Smith, Joshua Tyler
Elizabeth Barnes’ argues that physical disabilities have no impact on how well someone’s life goes since disabilities are not negative difference makers to one’s life. I analyze Barnes’ position and tease out three background theses she utilizes in order to argue her position. The most significant of these theses (I call T2) suggests that the kinds of goods experienced by an individual are much less important than the amount of goods in a life. As long as a disabled person can participate in some goods unrelated to a disability, their life will go well for them. I argue that certain goods, especially those an individual loves, are not consistent with this thesis. I use the analogy with romantic love to illustrate that some goods are valued not for their relative quantity but because of their unique relationship to an individual. Given this inconsistency, I suggest that Barnes’ position needs further support to justify her argument.
This paper was originally prepared for Course PHIL 506, Fall 2018: Seminar in Ethics, Current Debates in Welfare, given by Professor Gwen Bradford, Department of Philosophy.