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Moving through capacity space: mapping disability and enhancement

Abstract

In this paper, we highlight some problems for accounts of disability and enhancement that have not been sufficiently addressed in the literature. The reason, we contend, is that contemporary debates that seek to define, characterise or explain the normative valence of disability and enhancement do not pay sufficient attention to (1) a wide range of cases, and (2) the transition between one state and another. In section one, we provide seven cases that might count as disability or enhancement. We explain why (with the exception of the first two, which lay the groundwork for the others) each case might count, and on what basis, and why it is been neglected. Each case is explained as a transition in what we call capacity space. We then argue that no definition of disability or enhancement addresses all of these cases, except for strict welfarist accounts of disability that do not rely on a depiction of any particular capacity. We argue further, however, that this is a serious deficiency of welfarist conceptions of disability. We then address objections to our account.

  • disability
  • capacity
  • distributive justice
  • enhancement
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