Autonomy, Sexuality, and Intellectual Disability

Social Philosophy Today 32:107-121 (2016)
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Abstract

Respect for autonomy grounds common ethical judgments about why people should be allowed to make decisions for themselves. Under this assumption, it is concerning that a number of feminist conceptions of autonomy present challenges for people with intellectual disabilities. This paper explores some of the most philosophically influential feminist accounts of autonomy and demonstrates how these accounts exclude persons with intellectual disabilities. As a possible solution to these accounts, Laura Davy’s inclusive design approach is presented, which is a revised conception of autonomy that accommodates intellectual disabilities. While Davy’s approach to autonomy views people with intellectual disabilities as autonomous, it encounters limitations in regard to sexual autonomy, which incorporates certain judgments that are intuitively at odds with her recommendations. The remainder of this paper describes some complexities of sexual autonomy and determines why these are problematic for Davy’s account. After analyzing some of the challenges that sexual autonomy presents, I suggest a potential modification for consideration. This modification will allow Davy’s account to address the topic of sexual autonomy for persons with intellectual disabilities. My proposal is a matter of theory following practice.

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Andria Bianchi
University of Waterloo

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Philosophy of Sex.Patricia Marino - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (1):22-32.

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