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Parr|Bioethics Joint Lecture: Elizabeth Barnes (University of Virginia), “Disability and Health: An ‘It’s Complicated’ Relationship”
March 2 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Disability rights activists often claim that being disabled is not something that automatically makes you worse off – it’s a way of being a minority, these activists argue, and should be viewed more like we tend to view sexual orientation or gender identity, rather than as a defect to be overcome. But almost all physical disabilities involve – by their nature – a loss of health. And it seems like a very bad idea to suggest that reduction in health is not bad for people. Is there a way of saying both that health is very important to our lives and that disability doesn’t automatically make our lives worse? Or are these two claims incompatible?
Elizabeth Barnes is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia. She works on social philosophy, feminist philosophy, metaphysics, and ethics, and is especially interested in places where these topics overlap. Her book The Minority Body is about the nature of disability and its connection to wellbeing. Her forthcoming book Health Problems: Philosophical Puzzles on the Nature of Health explores philosophical issues related to our understanding of health and disease.