Thinking About the Good Reconfiguring Liberal Metaphysic (or Not) or People with Cognitive Disabilities

Metaphilosophy, Vol. 40, pp. 475-498, 2009

17 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2009

See all articles by Anita Silvers

Anita Silvers

San Francisco State University - Department of Philosophy

Leslie P. Francis

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: December 8, 2009

Abstract

Liberalism welcomes diversity in substantive ideas of the good but not in the process whereby these ideas are formed. Ideas of the good acquire weight on the presumption that each is a person’s own, formed independently. But people differ in their capacities to conceptualize. Some, appropriately characterized as cerebral, are proficient in and profoundly involved with conceptualizing. Others, labeled cognitively disabled, range from individuals with mild limitations to those so unable to express themselves that we cannot be sure whether their behavior is mediated by concepts at all. Constricted cognitive capacities have been thought to prevent participation in the prescribed process for forming personalized ideas of the good. So liberal theory, when formulating principles and practices of justice, often disregards cognitively disabled peoples’ perspectives. We put aside metaphysically driven notions about personhood and show how interpersonal processes of ‘‘prosthetic’’ thinking (different from surrogacy) can satisfy liberalism’s standards, positioning cognitively disabled individuals as fully participating subjects of justice.

Suggested Citation

Silvers, Anita and Francis, Leslie P., Thinking About the Good Reconfiguring Liberal Metaphysic (or Not) or People with Cognitive Disabilities (December 8, 2009). Metaphilosophy, Vol. 40, pp. 475-498, 2009 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1520761

Anita Silvers

San Francisco State University - Department of Philosophy ( email )

1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
United States

Leslie P. Francis (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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