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THE PERSONAL IS PHILOSOPHICAL IS POLITICAL: A PHILOSOPHER AND MOTHER OF A COGNITIVELY DISABLED PERSON SENDS NOTES FROM THE BATTLEFIELD

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Abstract

Abstract: Having encountered landmines in offering a critique of philosophy based on my experience as the mother of a cognitively disabled daughter, I ask, “Should I continue?” I defend the idea that pursuing this project is of a piece with the invisible care labor that is done by people with disabilities and their families. The value of attempting to influence philosophical conceptions of cognitive disability by virtue of this experience is justified by an inextricable relationship between the personal, the political, and the philosophical. If one grants that the “special relationship” between mother and child requires moral recognition, then I need first to make vivid the case that this relationship in the case of a child who lacks some “normal capacities” is indistinguishable from any mother-child relationship. If this is so, then I believe I can make a case that has as its conclusion that the moral personhood of even the severely cognitively disabled must be granted. Moreover, such recognition, I argue, necessitates the recognition of others who bear no special relationships to the child.

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