University of Oregon

cognitive disability

Licia Carlson on moral authority
Cognitive Disability: A Challenge to Moral Philosophy; Stony Brook, NYC; September 18-20, 2008

You can see commentary on, and discussion of this clip at The What Sorts blog:

Transcript of video clip:
The assertion of moral authority on the part of the disengaged, unsentimental moral philosopher can also place those scholars who do have connections with persons with intellectual disabilities in a sort of double bind, whereby the perspectives can be rendered invalid or invisible. In advocating for those close to them and in challenging certain philosophical moves—like the association between intellectual disability and animals, for example—their positions may be explained away by virtue of their relation to that individual and thus rendered invalid. Yet if the requirement for participation in moral discourse is a dispassionate, disengaged objective stance, then their voices may be silenced or excluded altogether.
The irony, however, as I mentioned before, is that while their voices may not have a place in moral discourse, these individuals—the parents or family members themselves—do not disappear altogether. Some have argued that the severely intellectually disabled do not possess any intrinsic worth or dignity, rather they are deserving of moral consideration only by virtue of the fact that they matter to someone who is a full person. What is at stake in adopting this position, and does it restrict the realm of concern simply to those for whom intellectual disability is a lived reality. What if we were to reverse the assumption, however, and treat the parental or familial relationship as a model of what it would mean to be in an ethical relation to someone with an intellectual disability—and weve heard examples of this in the conference.