World Philosophy Day and Growth of Philosophy

Today is World Philosophy Day, a day designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to celebrate “the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual ”.

Philosophy is one of the oldest types of human inquiry, but continues to grow remarkably, sometimes eliminating certain questions but generating new ones more regularly – new questions that specify in more and more detail what we do not know. not on topics that philosophers have long studied, and new questions that are beginning to map out what is unknown in areas that philosophers have not yet explored much.

[Terence Wilde, “Reading John Wyndham” (detail)]

One of the ways in which philosophy progresses is through the production of new questions, and one conducive thing to this is to have people with different types of knowledge, perspectives and experiences doing philosophy. So I think it is right that coincides with World Philosophy Day, the publication of the first issue of The Journal of Philosophy of Handicap.

In their introduction to the issue, editors Joel Michael Reynolds (Georgetown) and Teresa Blankmeyer Burke (Gallaudet) document these advances in philosophy by describing the recent growth in the philosophy of disability. Below is an excerpt from their introduction.

Historically, philosophy has too often failed to address the central aspects of life. The uphill battle to include inquiry into class, race, colonialism, sex, gender and sexuality in a number of areas of philosophical discourse over the past century is a clear example of this. The same is true of the exclusion of serious philosophical reflection on disability. Despite this challenge, the philosophy of disability has increasingly been recognized as a separate field over the past twenty years. Disability is at the heart of human life. As the disability activism adage goes, “Disability is everywhere, once you know how to look for it.

Field pioneers and first generation knowledge builders including Adrienne Asch, Eva Feder Kittay, Susan Wendell, S. Kay Toombs, Anita Silvers, Leslie Francis, Kim Q. Hall, David Wasserman and Shelly Tremain have raised awareness disability as a focal and generative site of philosophical research by demonstrating its centrality in multiple long-established philosophical fields … Research in the philosophy of disability has to date been of a remarkably broad scope, ranging from work on Parfit’s problem of non-identity to Kittay’s feminist critique of Rawlsian social contract theory; analyzes of Feinberg’s open future argument to the development of the role of disability in the Nussbaum and Sen articulation of the capabilities approach; and from Toombs’ phenomenological investigations of incarnation to Hall’s critiques of norms and normality from the perspective of feminist disability studies …

As these examples demonstrate, disability is addressed in social and political philosophy; feminist philosophy; social epistemology; philosophy of law; aesthetic; metaphysical; philosophy of medicine; philosophy of mind; applied fields, including bioethics, engineering ethics and environmental ethics; and through continental and analytical philosophy, among many other fields and sub-fields. In addition, in philosophical, academic and even popular discourses it has become common to refer to discussions regarding, for example, deaf identity and deaf gain, neurodiversity, addiction and disability, aging and deafness. deficiency, or even the expressivist thesis.

After a constant flow of scholarships from the 1990s, work in the philosophy of disability has developed exponentially in recent years. The estate has witnessed major philosophical monographs, including that of Elizabeth Barnes The minority body (Oxford University Press, 2016), Shelley Tremain Foucault and the feminist philosophy of disability(University of Michigan Press, 2017), Chris Kaposy Choosing Down syndrome(MIT Press, 2018) and Eva Kittay’s Learn from my daughter (Oxford University Press, 2019), among other titles. Several high-level edited volumes supported by major university presses including The Oxford Handbook on Philosophy and Disability, edited by Adam Cureton and David Wasserman, appeared at the same time as entries on debates in disability philosophy rapidly developed in encyclopedias such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The SEP now has eight pieces engaging the field, including “Disability and Justice”, “Critical Theory of Disability”, “Cognitive Impairment and Moral Status”, “Feminist Perspectives on Disability” and “Disability: Health, Well-being and Personal. Relationships. “The philosophy of disability is no longer on the fringes of philosophy.

Another reason why the philosophy of disability is finally taking its rightful place is the wide impact and importance of the work carried out by researchers in the field. Disability philosophers typically deploy innovative and interdisciplinary methods to solve complex problems spanning the humanities and social sciences, and academics and policy makers alike have taken note. The growth of the philosophy of disability is an important boon for those who value interdisciplinary engagement and exchange, as research in this area is of great interest to humanists of all stripes as well as to many scientific researchers. social organizations whose work addresses disability issues. Given the current state of the broad interdisciplinary field of disability studies, this includes those working in almost all areas of the humanities and social sciences, including English, sociology, anthropology, law, l education, political theory, psychology, history, gender, sexuality, queer and trans studies, religious studies, music studies, rhetoric, design and art theory…

None of this should come as a surprise. Because of the centrality of disability in all life, the philosophy of disability is an area that touches almost all areas of philosophical research. Using a wide range of evidence and argument, researchers working in the philosophy of disability have uncovered two lingering problems in the wider practice of philosophy. First, unexamined hypotheses that misunderstand, ignore, or take for granted the role, nature, character, importance and impact of conceptions of human capacity and disability. Second, the enormous benefit that philosophical projects would derive from engaging in the vast body of work of disability activists and academics …

You can read the full introduction here.

Discussion welcome, especially suggestions for other examples of relatively recent growth in philosophy.

Philosophy in Cincinnati


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