The Social Model of Disability: A Philosophical Critique



abstract Emerging from the political activism of disabled people's movements and mainly theorised by the scholar Michael Oliver, the social model of disability is central to current debates in Disability Studies as well as to related perspectives on inclusive education.

This article presents a philosophical critique of the social model of disability and outlines some of its theoretical problems. It argues that in conceptualising disability as unilaterally socially caused, the social model presents a partial and, to a certain extent, flawed understanding of the relation between impairment, disability and society, thus setting a framework that needs clarifications and extensions and presents limits to the achievement of its own aim of inclusion.

This article concludes by suggesting that, despite its theoretical limits, the social model acts as a powerful and important reminder to face issues of inclusion as fundamental, moral issues.