Ability Privilege: A Needed Addition to Privilege Studies
Journal for Critical Animal Studies, 12(2), 118-141, 2014
24 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2014 Last revised: 4 Sep 2014
Date Written: May 1, 2014
Ability privilege describes the advantages enjoyed by those who exhibit certain abilities and the unwillingness of these individuals to relinquish the advantage linked to the abilities especially with the reason that these are earned or birth given (natural) abilities. Privileges linked to various groups (e.g. male, race, class, gender) are discussed in the literature. I submit that ability privilege, a dynamic pervasive in society, ought to be discussed. The lens of ability privilege allows for analyzing the dynamic of what ability advantages are seen as earned vs. unearned not only across traditional social groups (e.g. race, class, gender) but also between the social group dualistic of the ability-have and ability-not-have which allows one to look at ability privileges as they play themselves out in human-human, human-nature and human-animal relationships. Ethics ought to give us guidance how to act. I submit that the concept of ability privilege, and which ability privileges we envision as earned or unearned is worthy of ethical deliberations. I cover in this paper ability privileges related to disabled people, human-nature and human-animal relationship, the ability of competitiveness and consumerism, and I highlight emerging new forms of ability privileges made possible through science and technology advancements and the role of ethics.
Keywords: privilege, ability privilege, nature, humans, animals
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