Disability and the Goods of Life

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 46 (6):704-728 (2021)
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The so-called Disability Paradox arises from the apparent tension between the popular view that disability leads to low well-being and the relatively high life-satisfaction reports of disabled people. Our aim in this essay is to make some progress toward dissolving this alleged paradox by exploring the relationship between disability and various “goods of life”—that is, components of a life that typically make a person’s life go better for her. We focus on four widely recognized goods of life (happiness, rewarding relationships, knowledge, achievement) and four common types of disability (sensory, mobility, intellectual, and social) and systematically examine the extent to which the four disability types are in principle compatible with obtaining the four goods of life. Our findings suggest that that there is a high degree of compatibility. This undermines the widespread view that disabilities, by their very nature, substantially limit a person’s ability to access the goods of life, and it provides some guidance on how to dissolve the Disability Paradox.



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Author Profiles

Stephen M. Campbell
Bentley University
Sven Nyholm
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

Why Intellectual Disability is Not Mere Difference.James B. Gould - 2022 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 19 (3):495-509.
Disability Discrimination and Patient-Sensitive Health-Related Quality of Life.Lasse Nielsen - 2023 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 32 (2):142-153.
Well-Being and Health.Richard Kim & Daniel M. Haybron - 2021 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 46 (6):645-655.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Natural Law and Natural Rights.John Finnis - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?Edmund Gettier - 1963 - Analysis 23 (6):121-123.
The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability.Elizabeth Barnes - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

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