Commemorating Foucault II: Symposium on Tremain’s Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability

Michel Foucault died unexpectedly 35 years ago today. To honour Foucault’s memory and the rich body of work that he bequeathed to us, I am reposting two symposiums that were previously posted at Discrimination and Disadvantage: a symposium on my Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability that took place at the annual meeting of CSWIP in late October of 2017 and a symposium on Melinda’s The Bioethics of Enhancement: Transhumanism, Disability, and Biopolitics that took place at the annual meeting of the CPA in late May of 2017. Foucault’s thinking plays an essential role in both books. The symposiums have been reformatted for BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.


Commentary on Shelley Tremain’s

Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability


Jane Dryden 

It is with pleasure that I introduce this panel today, on Dr. Shelley Tremain’s forthcoming book, Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability. Melinda Hall, Catherine Clune-Taylor, and I will each take about 15 minutes to discuss the book, and then Shelley Tremain will respond – this should leave about 30 minutes for questions.

I will briefly introduce the book itself, and then my remarks will be in three sections (1) the advantage of Shelley’s historicist and relativist account over other accounts of disability; (2) noting that this doesn’t require ignoring the material body; (3) a brief conclusion.  

Book in General

Shelley’s book is important and timely. Disability has long been thought to be a biomedical issue, and most properly addressed within bioethics. It is usually treated within philosophy as a kind of blunt fact, an unhappy natural circumstance. It has been assumed to be philosophically uninteresting in itself – sometimes used as an idealized counter-example to test a theory, but not actually scrutinized. There are exceptions (often via phenomenology), but when looking through the bulk of the literature in philosophy that connects to disability, a disappointingly large amount of it is about whether or not disabled people should be allowed to live — either at the beginning or end of life.

Shelley’s work has long stood as a corrective to this, in two interrelated spheres (as she describes them): metaphilosophical arguments about the mechanisms involved in the marginalization of philosophy of disability and of disabled philosophers, and reconstructive-conceptual arguments about the nature of disability. Within this second sphere, her articles — (such as her 2001 “On the Government of Disability”) — have long argued that disability is not a blunt fact, but a product of contingent historical circumstances – in her words (from her book), “a historically and culturally specific and contingent social phenomenon, a complex apparatus of power rather than a natural attribute or property that certain people possess” (2). 

Her book develops and extends the arguments in both spheres: in the first three chapters, she lays the groundwork, explains how power and normalization create categories of people that then appear “natural,” and applies this to disability, in philosophical and historical detail. The next chapter explores the relationship of Foucault to feminist philosophy and defends Foucault against some of his critics, pointing out what is ignored when a gender-based account of power relations fails to take knowledge about disability into account. The final chapter uses the understanding of disability as constructed through power to critique the operation of bioethics as a field, pointing out how, even with well-intentioned practitioners, it nonetheless serves to reinscribe assumptions about disability that are then used to underlie eugenicist logics.

Advantage of a Historicist and Relativist Account

I think that philosophy is improved when it pays attention to history. I’m not a Foucault scholar, but the Foucauldian and Nietzschean insight that many things that seem “obvious” and “common sense” to us are themselves the products of historical contingency seems plausible to me. Likewise: disability.

Shelley’s book avoids the temptation to try to nail down a static, all-purpose, transhistorical definition of disability itself – she labels her conception historicist and relativist, and goes to some length to defend it.

Without having the time to go into a lot of detail, I’ll briefly contrast two other models of disability before giving what I think are the advantages of Shelley’s account.

The social model argues for a distinction between impairment, as a value-neutral biological or neurological characteristic, and disability, which is located in the interaction between impairment and social, economic, and political structures (the British social model frames this as social oppression of people with impairments). The policy argument that comes out of this general distinction is that disability-as-disadvantage could largely be eradicated in a more enlightened society, even as impairments (which are not intrinsically “bad”) remain.

Shelley points out that there are narrower and broader conceptions of the social model which tend to get confused (9-11). Nonetheless, this is the model which usually gets taught first in introductions to Disability Studies, and so this understanding of the distinction between impairment and disability tends to get reiterated again and again in introductory readings and courses on disability (I do this too!). It has been criticized and defended on a number of fronts, but I want to highlight the conception of impairment at work: on the social model, disability is socially constructed, but impairment is assumed to be natural, transhistorical, matter of fact.

Shelley’s account denies this neat split – she points out that “Impairment cannot be thought of as prior to disability because disability—construed as either a functional limitation or socially instituted disadvantage—is required to think of impairment at all” (116) – in other words, in order to pick out those differences that would be read as impairments, we need to go in with disability in mind. The idea of impairment itself as something static is also a historically specific idea, and thus not something we should take for granted (115).

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Barnes’s recent account, in her 2016 book The Minority Body, articulates a different model of disability, which also moves away from the impairment/disability distinction. Barnes sets out criteria for what she thinks a good model of disability should do: “(i) Delivers correct verdicts for paradigm cases” (10), “(ii) Doesn’t prejudge normative issues” (11), “(iii) is unifying or explanatory” (12), and “(iv) is not circular” (13).

Her concern, in other words, is for an account of disability as a category that makes logical sense and follows rules – in arguing, as she ends up doing, that disability is just what the disability rights movement promotes justice for, she argues that the judgements made by the disability rights movement about what counts as disability are rule-based, using cluster-concept reasoning (45). This means that “Disability is all and only the things that the disability rights movement ought to consider as things they are promoting justice for—it is rule-based solidarity among people with certain kinds of bodies” (46). Because she is concerned with picking out a set of rules for what disability is, she also goes on to argue that this conception can be applied across history. While she notes that, for example, “Richard III wouldn’t have self-identified as disabled,” she argues that nonetheless he was disabled (50-51).

Both of these models, then, rely on some transhistorical notion of what human beings are supposed to be like to ground their models of disability – for the social model, this is impairment; for Barnes, this is disability. For some people, this transhistorical ground will be a feature, not a bug. (This opens up huge questions about what should “count” in philosophy and how we should do philosophy, that go far beyond the scope of my remarks here)

Doing so, though, limits what questions show up as relevant to one’s analysis. If it’s already decided that some feature “counts” as disability regardless of when and where it shows up, then a lot of the most interesting and important questions go away. (It’s worth noting that Medieval Disability Studies has been moving away from the disability/impairment distinction, noting that it breaks down for a number of scenarios.1) 

For example, what can one make of the fact that blue eyes were “bodily blights” in the medieval Islamic world? (cf. Kristina Richardson’s book, Disability and Difference in the Medieval Islamic World). Are blue eyes impairments on the Social model? Alternately, with Barnes’s model, were folks just wrong about them as being a kind of disability (since certainly the contemporary disability rights movement is unlikely to care too much about solidarity with blue-eyed folks just because we have blue eyes)? Are they just an outlier from the cluster concept? Or maybe they are part of a different set of rules?

But also: if the question we’re hung up on is does this historical example fit our concept of “disability” today, then I think we’re hung up on the wrong question.

More interesting, I think, is how did it work in its context? What did it do? How did it mark out certain folks? What purposes did this serve? How was it justified? What kinds of knowledge production and dissemination were involved in maintaining it? How did it change over time?

These are the questions that Shelley’s analysis points us toward, and this is the advantage of a historicist account. Note how asking these questions points us toward the relationship that disability has to other social forces, identities, and classifications – so that without saying that disability is the same as racialized, class, or gendered identity, we can connect the dots between them to better understand what a given society privileges, values, and holds up as “ideal”, and what it does not (and thus what harm may be done).

This doesn’t mean that “disability” can suddenly mean anything (so that we won’t know what we’re talking about) – but that what grounds it is historicized and contextualized accounts of how it comes to describe certain people and characteristics, not assumed transhistorical criteria. (The reason “blue eyes” are not considered an impairment today in Canada has more to do with history and ideology than with any particular biological fact about them).

The Body and Pain

On a related note, Shelley notes that Foucault’s work has been criticized on the grounds that it is said to lose track of the materiality of the body itself (118), as though we can either pay attention to historical structures or to phenomenology and the material body). She quotes Jackie Leach Scully’s worries about losing the “biological substrate to embodiment”, summarizing them as: “Absent a biological substrate on which to hang disability, disability theory would, apparently, float free-form in the realm of linguistic idealism” (118).

Shelley argues that “the impaired and disabled body (and its materiality) cannot be dissociated from, nor is it ontologically or temporally antecedent to, the historically contingent discursive practices that have brought it into being—that is, brought it into being as that kind of thing” (120). As I understand it, we recognize the disabled body as such because of a context – social, historical, scientific, medical – that picks it out as disabled, and endows that disablement with certain meanings. We can certainly work to challenge and destabilize those, but that doesn’t erase them.

It strikes me that this suggests an and for us to take up, not an or. Following Shelley’s analysis of the discourses surrounding disability is consistent with also paying attention to individual experiences – but noting that those experiences don’t come out of a cultural vacuum.

This is the point in the discussion where some folks like to invoke pain, as a pre-discursive blunt fact – regardless of historical context, pain just hurts, and is bad. Pain is seen as pure impairment, not social (Shelley quotes Eva Kittay – “There are aspects of disability that no one really wants that are part of the impairment, like pain, caused by impairment itself” (114) – but I have had this conversation with students and colleagues as well).

Well, even pain can benefit from closer analysis. Shelley notes that “Even the idea of pain and the experience of it are historically and culturally relative and interpreted” (116). This isn’t fleshed out in the book, but there is a paper by Alyson Patsavas that starts to do this work, and demonstrates (I think) the kind of both/and analysis that is helpful.2  

Patsavas juxtaposes personal accounts (both from memory and excerpts from journal entries) with an overview of US discourse around chronic pain drawn from Time magazine articles, noting that “the belief that all disabled people experience pain and that all pain leads to suffering runs through popular discourses to create entrenched ways of ‘knowing’ pain and disability. These ways of knowing pain shape how we experience pain.” Patsavas advocates developing a “cripistemology of pain,” which would be “a process of knowledge production that situates pain within discursive systems of power and privilege” (205). This does not erase pain, or the body in pain! Patsavas proposes an analytic that builds from experience, which includes “excavating the felt experiences of cultural discourses, and situating those experiences within a broader cultural politics of ableism” (207).

Time prevents me from going more into detail with Patsavas’s article, alas, but I would point to their rich analyses of the effects of discourses of athleticism and butch stoicism on trying to ‘hold pain in,’ and the relational and interdependent aspects of pain shared with loved ones.

Patsavas invites us to “think pain otherwise” and “to re-imagine our (shared, pained) futures” (216). Putting Patsavas’s work alongside Shelley’s analysis we can start to notice how the concept of pain gets leveraged in particular ways in biomedical discourses, as a thing that ‘everyone knows’ is bad. (In particular, as something believed to be worse than death, which Patsavas discusses).


I haven’t discussed the metaphilosophical sphere of Shelley’s work much in these remarks, but it is also important. The absence of knowledge and understanding about disability in philosophy means that dominant scientific and cultural discourses about disability are allowed to go unchallenged in a discipline which precisely prides itself on questioning everything.

As long as philosophers assume they know when they don’t know, disability will continue to come up merely as a kind of thought experiment, to be discussed in ways that reinforce ableist assumptions and expectations – this ends up having an effect on hiring, on the level of urgency in developing accessible practices, on disabled students considering entering the field, on philosophers’ public sphere policy recommendations. Shelley’s analysis helps us to observe and articulate the ways in which we are led to “obvious” conclusions about disability, and so can help us challenge and rethink them.

Thanks, Shelley, for your book, and I look forward to the rest of the panel.


1 Cf. Wendy Turner, “Past, Present, and Future of Medieval Disability Studies”, transcript of comments at the Medieval Academy of America conference: )

2 Alyson Patsavas, “Recovering a Cripistemology of Pain: Leaky Bodies, Connective Tissue, and Feeling Discourse,” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies vol. 8, no. 2 (2014), 203-4 – )


Commentary on Shelley Tremain’s

Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability


Melinda C. Hall

I am honored to be afforded the wonderful opportunity to provide remarks on Shelley Tremain’s new book, Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability (2017). It was an immense pleasure to read. Shelley’s analytical achievements in the book—including thoroughly denaturalizing disability, identifying and analyzing the exclusion of disabled people from the field of philosophy and disability from the philosophical canon—are richly and persuasively supported with remarkably penetrative and rigorous argumentation.

Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability is a major contribution to the field and substantially adds to Shelley’s impressive body of philosophical work in at least three areas: namely, her thorough Foucauldian analyses of key concepts that give shape to power in recent times; her enactments of genealogical histories of the present which provide insights necessary to read power’s work; her metaphilosophical analysis with regard to the ways in which the field of philosophy, with its hierarchies, subfields, and exclusions, works to structure, reconstitute, and continually rehabilitate naturalized and depoliticized visions of disability; and her incredible, continued work in social epistemology on the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog, for which she has conducted and published over 30 groundbreaking interviews with disabled philosophers regarding their work, lives, and experiences in the field of philosophy.   

The book presents, in her words, a “feminist philosophy of disability that draws on Foucault to investigate the problematization of disability” (36). In this way, it links together these areas of Shelley’s work but also stimulates new ways of thinking about these areas and provides much-needed correctives to the practice and theory of philosophy and philosophy of disability. 

Shelley wonderfully weaves two spheres together in the book – the “metaphilosophical” and “reconstructive-conceptual” (2017, 8-9). The book productively presents these threads together. I’ll point out just one of countless examples of this. In Chapter 3, “Historicizing and Relativizing Philosophy of Disability,” she refers to the so-called medical model, that is, the medicalized conception of disability:  “The conception is not static, although many (if not most) of the conceptual objects that emerge from it are naturalized as such” (86). 

This is a swift and incisive way of arguing, first, that the medicalized conception of disability inappropriately naturalizes disabilities, discourses, and various social and political circumstances (this is the reconstructive-conceptual sphere) and, second, that the medicalized conception of disability outstrips the confines of the “medical model” and shifts and updates based on changes in philosophical and scientific discourses in such a way as to continuously reassert disability or impairment as biological and transhistorical rather than politically and socially-contingent and historical (this is the metaphilosophical sphere). 

I’d like to begin by highlighting one of Shelley’s primary concerns in the book – the metaphilosophical analysis she provides of the fundamental exclusion of disability from the philosophical canon and disabled people from the field of philosophy– two related modes of oppression that redound in a deepening dynamic that must be interrupted. Crucially, Shelley deftly counters the work of feminists and philosophers who, though they claim to deal quite seriously with marginalization, nevertheless marginalize disabled people in their work. 

Shelley provides us with a new way of talking about this phenomenon by coining the term ableist exceptionism. Ableist exceptionism is the “phenomenon whereby disability, because it is assumed to be a prediscursive, natural, and politically neutral human characteristic (difference, attribute, or property), is uniquely excluded from the production and application of certain values, beliefs, principles, and actions that circulate in political consciousness.” (2017, 33). 

A key example of this, which Shelley thoroughly analyzes and of which we should all take careful note, is the way in which disability is put to “metaphorical use” in a way that philosophers “assume…is politically neutral and innocent, although they politicize virtually all other speech acts, identifying them as value laden and interested” (34). Shelley, wonderfully, points out the unescapable truth when she writes: “it would be very strange indeed if linguistic and discursive practices were constitutive of other social inequalities, yet somehow remained outside of, apart from, and indifferent to, the domain of disability and ableist oppression” (34). 

Throughout this book, Shelley brings to light the egregious and continued ableist exceptionism at the root of multiple areas of scholarship, discussion, and pedagogy familiar to philosophers – including but not at all limited to the Implicit Association Test and implicit bias, stereotype threat, epistemic injustice, and other varieties of anti-oppression work that addresses sexism and racism without taking disability into account. 

Indeed, issues unique to disabled philosophers, including inaccessible built environments but also segregating and subjugating conceptual issues in research agendas and questions which assume notions like “defect,” “pathology” and “natural disadvantage” are fundamentally excluded from anti-oppression analyses. This is because even if disability is included in discussions of oppression, it is often and inaccurately included as an extension of the analyses used to consider race and gender, which already excluded politicized understandings of disability. So, from the outset, there is no way—that is, no way without fundamentally reorganizing and refiguring these analytical frameworks—to understand or assess issues that uniquely impact disabled people and no way to have an accurate account of ableism (e.g. 36). 

In a replication of what Shelley rightly describes as the “individualized, medicalized, and privatized conception of disability and inclusion of disabled people” that “underlies” accessibility policies at colleges and universities, philosophy as a profession and field of study continues to wrongly assume that disability is an individualized and biological matter best dealt with on a case-by-case basis, rather than addressed institutionally, systematically, or philosophically (2017, 30). 

Because of this and other marginalizing attitudes and conceptions, including stigma, disabled people are not treated as “viable” colleagues and remain hugely underrepresented in professional philosophy (36, cf. Tremain 2014). Even amidst calls to diversify the profession, this state of affairs goes largely unchallenged. For this reason alone, Shelley’s book should be required reading for professional philosophers. But, of course, her contributions extend much further. 

This book offers many new resources and lines of critique in its role as a feminist-Foucauldian work of philosophy of disability. Shelley meticulously rebuts misreadings and misappropriations of Foucault among feminists, disability theorists, and other thinkers who have so often reinscribed the status quo when it comes to theorizing disability. At the same time, she radicalizes philosophical considerations of topics ranging from the case of Phineas Gage to stem cell research to feminist analyses of epistemic injustice. 

In these ways, Shelley sets the scene for philosophy of disability and opens new paths for critical disability studies. Indeed, Shelley deeply attends to the reification, naturalization, and marginalization of disability and disabled people in the various areas in which this creation occurs, including philosophy itself, as I’ve discussed only too briefly, and the ways that its subfields are constructed. Overall, Shelley’s engagement with so many areas of philosophical debate and detailed Foucauldian perspective makes for an impressively wide-ranging text that is unified under a striking portrait of the government of disability in the present and the history of the present moment. 

One of Shelley’s key interventions in this book is to undermine, defamiliarize, and denaturalize terminology like: people with disabilities, hierarchies of “severity” among impairments, the terminology of impairment itself, and type or kind distinctions among disabilities (e.g. physical or intellectual, among other similar terms). She continues to build on past work with her intervention with regard to impairment, for example – impairment is the product of power relations, just as disability is. Just as Judith Butler claims that sex is performatively constituted through gender, Shelley leverages Foucault to make the same claim about the relationship between disability and impairment (2017, 115). She writes: “impairment has been disability— or rather, an element of the apparatus of disability— all along” (93). 

Indeed, we should not be surprised that impairment itself is historical, as “the shifting limits and borders of the classification of impairment demonstrate its historicity and cultural specificity” (93). She also compares her intervention with regard to impairment to Christine Overall’s work on age, which demonstrates that age is not outside of culture (94). Shelley writes that impairment is not natural, value-neutral, and objective but rather is “historically specific and performative” (115). 

Some may be concerned that a Foucauldian view on these matters indulges a kind of linguistic idealism, by which material bodies are undermined, forgotten, or made irrelevant. But, to say that something is not natural, value-neutral, or objective is certainly not the same as wishing it away or denying its reality. Contra Foucault’s detractors, Shelley shows that “Foucault was concerned to historicize the body rather than to eliminate it” (2017, 119). Further, bringing together the work of Dorothy Roberts, Victoria Pitts-Taylor, and others, Shelley claims that there is “no natural body” – with reference to Roberts, “biology is not a separate entity that interacts with the environment; rather, biology is constituted by these interactions” (4). So, we do not lose the body, here – rather, Shelley helps us finally begin to see it accurately and unnaturally, in a thoroughly historical and political way. 

Indeed, to indicate that impairment is “an element of the apparatus of disability” is to say that it is shot through with meaning, including political meaning, experiential, first-person meaning, historical meaning, and communal meaning. Impairment is indeed real, as it is the precise object of many technologies of governance that individualize and totalize (2017, e.g. 76). For Shelley, impairment is a product of a diagnostic style of reasoning, a concept to which I would like to now turn directly in order to invite Shelley to say a bit more about this matter.

Ian Hacking describes a style of reasoning as follows: “Every style comes into being by little microsocial interactions and negotiations. It is a contingent matter, to be described by historians…Yet each style has become independent of its own history, remembering it chiefly in myths of origin. Each has become a canon of objectivity, a standard or model of what it is to be reasonable in this or that type of subject matter” (1994, 40). Further, Hacking claims, as a necessary condition, “every style of reasoning makes possible, introduces, a great many novelties, including new types of: objects, evidence, sentences, new ways of being a candidate for truth or falsehood, laws, or at any rate modalities, [and] possibilities” (40). 

As Shelley makes clear, Hacking’s view is that “each style of reasoning…introduces a new type of object, individuated using the style, and not previously noticeable among the things that exist” (41). Indeed, according to Hacking, “each style should introduce novelties of most or all of the listed types, and should do so in an open-textured, ongoing and creative way” (41).

Hacking uses a historical list of styles of reasoning, pulled from the historian Alistair Crombie, that includes (I am paraphrasing) postulation in mathematics; experimentation, analogy, taxonomy, statistics, and genetics (1994, 34). Hacking, building from Crombie in a Foucauldian mode, points out that these overlap, combine, and recombine, and that although they proceed historically from mathematics to genetics, no style of reasoning disappears – rather, they are layered and repurposed (35-36).

In an exciting way, Shelley links styles of reasoning with impairment. She argues that “impairment is in fact a new conceptual object of the diagnostic style of reasoning that emerged with biopower in the late eighteenth century” (2017, 97). Prior to this point, she demonstrates, we could not have thought of correcting, preventing, or eliminating impairments; this would be conceptually impossible and statements about the necessity or ethics of such decisions would not have been appropriate candidates for truth and falsity (98). She describes the impacts of the diagnostic style of reasoning as follows: “The diagnostic style naturalizes impairment as an interior identity or essence on which culture acts to camouflage its contingency, that is, the contingency of the style of reasoning and the productive force relations that materialized impairment as ‘natural’ in the first place” (93). 

Further, the diagnostic style produces categorization (76). These styles of reasoning are self-authenticating – the creation of classifications and distinctions through diagnoses legitimates diagnostic reasoning and makes it seem inevitable and, even, a sign of progress.

I am interested in further elaborating the idea of a style of reasoning. How should we understand styles of reasoning in a larger taxonomy of Foucault’s vocabulary (an ironic question)? Is a style of reasoning a technology? Can a style of reasoning be the epistemological arm of the racism of the abnormal, or perhaps racism can simply be a style of reasoning? I invite any thoughts Shelley has on these questions, as I am grateful for the clarity her use of styles of reasoning brings to the discussion.  

Shelley also discusses risk, including the statistics and probabilities that are used to identify it (2017, 187-188). Shelley notes that Hacking, referring to the statistical style of reasoning, claims that “statistics and probabilities also determine classifications within which people must think of themselves and the options that are open to them” (188). She writes: “Since the end of the nineteenth century, the technology of risk, in all its various epistemological, economic, moral, juridical, and political modalities, has become a central organizing principle of governmentality in the West” (188). Shelley demonstrates that risk just does not exist prediscursively; you cannot have risk without a whole host of calculations and a discursive setting within which to consider it. 

Perhaps risk is itself a style of reasoning. I suggest this not in order to object to Shelley’s use of it in the book, but rather to motivate further discussion of the matter. Recall that, for Hacking, a style of reasoning should create new objects, evidence, sentences, laws, and possibilities (1994, 40). Risk does this in novel ways that outstrip the scope of statistics, although statistics provides a basis for the elaboration of this new style. Risk also calls upon old ideas like taint and inoculation (2014). Risk as a style of reasoning creates objects like: the risky individual (consider Jasbir Puar’s discussion of disability, debility, and policy brutality in “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” 2017), evidence like behaviors and morphology, sentences of all kinds that are candidates for truth and falsity, and laws like those that protect police officers from punishment when they murder others in supposed fear for their lives. 

These are just a few ideas. In a neat collaboration among some of these elements, risk as a style of reasoning also creates possibilities – it encourages subjects to conceive of autonomy as a way to conquer chance, i.e., a matter of risk prevention and moral obligation (cf. Waldschmidt 1992, 2005, and Weir 1996, 2006, also cited in Tremain 2017).  In this book and previously published work, Shelley has also discussed risk in the setting of prenatal testing and screening procedures and emerging technologies (e.g. 2006). She describes the development of the impaired fetus as a result of these technologies of power (2017, 181). Risk is of special interest to me in my research, so I wanted to highlight it.  

I have made a few suggestions here as to the direction of our conversation, but I will be thrilled to follow the threads of this panel’s discussion wherever they may go. Thank you, Shelley, for your book, which is incredibly provocative and game-changing. Your work has always been a shining light for me, and this book is no exception. Thank you, also, to the organizers of this panel for giving us a chance to speak together about this amazing book: Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability.

Works Cited 

Biss, Eula. 2014. On Immunity: An Inoculation. Greywolf Press.

Hacking, Ian. 1994. “Styles of Scientific Thinking or Reasoning: A New Analytical Tool for Historians and Philosophers of the Sciences.” In Kostas Gavroglu et al. (eds.), Trends in the Historiography of Science, 31-48. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Puar, Jasbir. 2017. “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” The New Inquiry September 15. Accessed September 25, 2017:

Tremain, Shelley. 2006. “Reproductive Freedom, Self-Regulation, and the Government of Impairment in Utero.” Hypatia 21, No. 1: 35-53.

—-. 2017. Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Waldschmidt, Anne. 1992. “Against Selection of Human Life—People With Disabilities Oppose Genetic Counselling.” Issues in Reproductive and Genetic Engineering 5, no. 2: 155-167.

—–. 2005. “Who Is Normal? Who Is Deviant? ‘Normality’ and ‘Risk’ in Genetic Diagnostics and Counseling.” In Foucault and the Government of Disability, edited by Shelley Tremain, 191-207. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Weir, Lorna. 1996. “Recent developments in the government of pregnancy.” Economy and Society 25 , No. 3: 372-392.

—–. 2006. Pregnancy, Risk and Biopolitics: On the Threshold of the Living Subject. New York: Routledge.



Commentary on Shelley Tremain’s

Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability


Catherine Clune-Taylor

It is my honor and pleasure to be here today to discuss Shelley Tremain’s forthcoming book Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability. Indeed, as someone familiar with her work and as a feminist Foucauldian whose work engages disability studies and bioethics, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read Shelley’s book prior to its official publication. This is a rich, urgent work for not only those of us in feminist philosophy, disability studies, bioethics, but for those of us in philosophy writ large.

The book’s arguments span what Tremain calls “two distinct, but interrelated and mutually constitutive spheres: a reconstructive-conceptual sphere” in which she provides a historicist and relativist account of the constitution of both disability and impairment as a corrective to the standard philosophical view that disability is both natural and philosophically uninteresting, and a “metaphilosophical sphere” which connects the exclusion of disabled philosophers from the field to this standard view. As Tremain writes, “the assumption that disability is a philosophically uninteresting human characteristic and the underrepresentation of disabled philosophers within the profession are inseparably embedded in the institutional infrastructure of the discipline, mutually constitutive and mutually reinforcing” (2-3). 

As a project, I see Tremain’s book as (finally) doing the work Garland-Thomson (2002) classically called for of transforming both disability studies and feminist theory – and indeed, the implications of this work, and the feminist philosophy of disability she outlines within it do go further (and take each field further) than previous engagements between them have done.

Tremain pushes us beyond the social model of disability (and impairment) by providing us with an account of disability as “an apparatus of productive force relations rather than as a personal characteristic, an identity, a difference, or a form of social oppression,” and of impairment as the naturalized effect and mechanism of that apparatus, brought about through the historical emergence of the diagnostic style of reasoning (204). Her arguments regarding the historically and culturally specific biomedical constitution of impairment (and of disability), and of the emergence of the academic discipline of bioethics as a “technology of government” have important implications for philosophy as a whole, but particularly for those of us critical, feminist philosophers at all interested in disability, bioethics, or issues of social justice within our disciplinary homes. Indeed, this work as a whole, as well as specific arguments in it feel uncannily timely within not only our larger biopolitical context, but within the academy as well, where time-worn debates regarding social justice have reignited in slightly new forms.

For example, her arguments against “people-first” language in order to emphasize the constitutive nature of power (for example, from “people with disabilities” to “disabled people”), seem to me in line with an emerging trend among intersectional scholars to shift away from thinking about the identities that power constitutes to thinking about power itself in its technologies, its administration – that is, in the multitude of quotidian ways in which certain populations are “made live” while others are “let die”.

Further, as a Foucault scholar, I would argue that Tremain is one of the most incisive and careful readers of Foucault in the field. This book represents an important contribution for those who work with and on Foucault, and her analysis of Foucault’s controversial treatment of Charles Jouy in particular moves the conversation regarding this case among feminist Foucauldians forward in important ways. 

Experience, Testimony, Methodology and Discipline

The first thing I would like to invite you to speak more about has to do with the disciplinary boundaries of philosophy, the methodologies we consider legitimate, and philosophy’s ability to take seriously the experiences and testimony of disabled individuals (including disabled philosophers) in its current state or configuration. It has always been quite interesting to me the way in which we limit the use of interviews or first-person testimony in philosophy, particularly in the context of bioethics where it is often explicitly acknowledged that key concepts or relevant factors – such as quality of life or autonomy – are subjectively defined (and maybe, if you’re a feminist bioethicist, relationally constituted as well).

While there has been an in increase in the use of interviews or first-person testimony or empirical studies in philosophy in general (and in bioethics in particular), these occur in fairly specific and circumscribed ways, and in fairly specific and circumscribed fields (ways and fields, I would argue, where these experiences can be readily rendered as data and scientized). Further, we also seem to accept the use of first-person testimony of philosophers themselves in more or less limited ways within feminist philosophy regarding their own experiences (I’m thinking here of Susan Brison’s work (2002) or even some of Cressida Heyes’s work (2006)). Or else we allow people to speak about general abstract caricatures of subjectivities that we recognize (like the woman who has internalized heterosexist norms). However, we as philosophers generally do not really do interviews with people ourselves, meaning that those of us who wish to draw on the first-person experiences of those who are oppressed (as standpoint feminists implore us to do), we end up having to rely on the work of other scholars in other disciplines.

As Tremain points out, while bioethicists have long acknowledged that key concepts or relevant factors in decision-making are subjectively defined, disabled individuals are often not afforded the authority to determine the quality of their lives. I too have been long horrified by the ways in which philosophers in general, and bioethicists, in particular tend to discount or discredit the experiences of disabled individuals and their own assessments of their own lives (and the force relations which disable them) – and beyond this, the experiences of disabled philosophers and their testimonies regarding their experiences within (and of being excluded from) the academy.

It seems to me that one of the key ways in which we facilitate the refusal to take the testimony of disabled individuals regarding their lives seriously (as well as that of many marginalized others) is through the methodological limitations we enforce as part and parcel of our general (and much beloved) exercises in disciplinary boundary policing. That is, it seems much easier to take refuge in arguments regarding “adaptive preferences” and “objective” assessments of quality of life when one does not actually have to engage with the individuals whom one is taking up and theorizing about – as individuals, in all their embodied subjectivity. Indeed, I suspect one could learn quite a bit about the performative nature of both disability and impairment if they spent an afternoon with a group of people who have had the pleasure of submitting to the paperwork and examinations of those administrative bureaucracies which via which one gains access to additional care or “accommodations”.

Further, if we will only accept philosopher’s first-person accounts (and continue to limit the use of interviews as “non-philosophical”), it puts the onus on disabled philosophers (and other marginalized individuals) to make it to the academy before we will take their accounts seriously. The situation for disabled individuals in the academy is fairly grim in general, but is particularly so in philosophy, as Tremain makes strikingly clear. Disabled philosophers generally find themselves underemployed or unemployed, and are generally not taken seriously within a hostile, ableist discipline. Disabled scholars have a clear sense that disability is still seen as an acceptable justification for discrimination.

I recently attended a Black Disability Studies event at Princeton University and discussion at the preceding lunch turned to concerns shared by many of the visiting scholars (and they claimed, some of their colleagues) about how to advise disabled graduate students and junior scholars about when to “come out” or disclose their disability while on the job market, if at all. While all of the attendees agreed that they understood and supported the decision of job seekers to not disclose who chose to do so (particularly amidst such a competitive job market), one scholar stated she advised job seekers to disclose as soon as possible, arguing that it was better to find out whether the institution was actually up to working with you and providing you with whatever accommodations you may need, than to get the job and get there only to find out they were not up to it at all.

Beyond providing me yet another reason to not want to put the onus on disabled individuals to get to the academy before we take their testimony seriously, this conversation – its existence and the complex web of barriers for disabled scholars it points to – cannot be captured by representational data, but only as testimony. Further, I pose this question here and now specifically because your work in both this book, and on the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog you co-ordinate (specifically, in your Dialogues on Disability interview series) makes it clear how vital and urgent it is that we attend to the voices and experiences of the disabled and shift “relations of knowledge-power in philosophy with respect to disability” (206). As you clearly acknowledge: “the Dialogues on Disability series is a hub for production of new forms of knowledge about disability and should therefore be recognized as a critical and vital contribution to social epistemology”(206).

As a disciplinary institution, the academy has its own styles of reasoning, its own forms of government (and governmentalities), and philosophy as a discipline has its own rules governing the production of knowledge/power – one feature of which is the hierarchizing of publications (in ways that themselves have been criticized for reifying oppressive exclusions within the discipline). Thus, it strikes me that the presence of disabled voices and of disabled people must move into our journals and our book projects – into those realms of knowledge/power production constituted within our discipline as most authoritative. Such a shift would arguably rectify a good deal of epistemic injustice wrought by philosophy in general, and by bioethics in particular to disabled persons (and allow us to rectify the ableism within our dominant account of epistemic injustice itself).

Further, this seems essential to the ability of the field to fruitfully engage with disability as an apparatus of power, and as a problematic within our discipline. However, it would be quite a shift indeed to see interviews with actual disabled individuals in Bioethics or the American Journal of Bioethics, let alone Synthese, or Mind, or Nous. And thus, I wonder if serious attention to your concerns, and to the account you have presented us with in your book, by the discipline wouldn’t require a larger (and perhaps itself, quite timely and urgent) reconstitution of the field in terms of what “counts” as philosophy.

Bio-Ethical Possibilities

The second thing I would like to invite you to think through with us (and which is much more broad) deals with the implications of your account for bioethics as a discipline. In truth, this question is really quite a selfish one. I have myself been thinking quite a bit in the past few years about bioethics as “a technology of government,” as you so eloquently put it, that is, as a central actor in the constitution of impairment and the government of disability. I find your assessment here quite compelling, and find myself wondering about the bio-medical and bio-ethical futures your analysis renders possible for us (or that we might render possible in response to it).

To be clear, I am not one of those who is pessimistic about the possibility for freedom within a Foucauldian framework – and the feminist philosophy of disability you outline as a methodology seems to go a long way towards cultivating the kind of critical, self-reflective approach that the ethical engagement of tools of discipline and regulation seems to require for him.

Further, it seems to me that discipline and regulation (in all their messy, generative glory) are here with us to stay. There is, of course, no outside of power. Neither of these registers of biopower are good nor bad in themselves, and further, they are terribly, and wonderfully efficient – particularly disciplinary normalization. Indeed, there are times when social justice for disabled individuals demands access to forms of normalization (such as when a diabetic is disabled by a lack of access to affordable insulin or an anaphylactic by lack of affordable access to an epipen) – facts that I suspect lead some of us to bristle at the thought of accepting or asserting the constitution of impairment. As Foucault writes, “a normalizing society is the historical outcome of a technology of power centered on life” (1995, 144). A life is what is at stake here for at least some disabled people – that is, which lives are constituted as worth living and which are not, or, in which lives is death constituted as more immediately present than in others.

Thus, if we want an ethics that takes up and (necessarily) co-constitutes medical practices that incorporate your insights regarding disability and impairment  – and arguably we do, for those practices are undeniably ethical – are we looking for a reconstitution of something that is still, at its core, a bio–ethics? That is, an ethics organized and co-constituted through some kind of knowledge/power regarding life itself, such that we are, in a sense, incorporating disabled individuals into those “lives that matter”? Or should we perhaps be looking beyond bios, overburdened as it may be with notions of function essential to our definition of impairment itself, whose historical constitution Tremain so keenly traces? And how might we situate the “diagnostic style of reasoning” that Tremain elaborates within the problematic she articulates for both the accepted view of disability (and impairment) as philosophically uninteresting, and the bio-ethical futures which take her account seriously?

I want to offer you an open invitation to think with those of us interested in the ethics of medicine (and in ethical medicine) and who accept the constitution of both impairment and disability about the places we may go from here.


Brison, S. (2002). Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Garland-Thomson, R. (2002). “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory,” NWSA Journal 14(3): 1-32

Heyes, Cressida (2006). “Foucault Goes to Weight Watchers” Hypatia21(2): 126-149



 Response to Commentaries on

Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability


Shelley Tremain

I am honoured to have this opportunity to discuss my forthcoming book on a panel that comprises feminist philosophers of disability for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration. Indeed, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to Jane DrydenMelinda Hall, and Catherine Clune-Taylor for their insightful engagement with the arguments that I make in Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability. Their interpretations and evaluations of my arguments are extremely generous and thought-provoking.

I regret that in the brief time allotted for my response to their commentaries, I cannot address many of the interesting questions and issues that they have respectively raised; however, I hope that, as a group, we will revisit some of these concerns and themes in the ensuing discussion period.

As Jane, Melinda, and Catherine have noted, I advance the arguments of the book within two distinct but interrelated spheres of analysis, that is, within a reconstructive-conceptual sphere and a metaphilosophical sphere (as I refer to them). The work that I do in both spheres builds upon and extends claims that I have previously published in various journal articles and book chapters (e.g., Tremain, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015).

In the reconstructive-conceptual sphere, I critically assess theories and models that variously construe disability as a prediscursive, transhistorical, and transcultural human characteristic, difference, or attribute and, in addition, put forward an alternative understanding of disability as an apparatus of power, an understanding inspired primarily by Michel Foucault.

In the metaphilosophical sphere, I identify some of the mechanisms and tactics that produce both the exclusion of disabled philosophers from the profession and the marginalization of critical philosophical work on disability in the discipline, drawing upon (among other things) empirical findings about the dire employment situation of disabled philosophers and disabled academics in general, as well as pointing out gaps in discussions about epistemic injustice, diversity, and underrepresentation in philosophy that hitherto have circulated in both feminist and mainstream philosophy journals, on philosophy blogs, and elsewhere.

One reviewer of the proposal for the book wrote in their report to LeAnn Fields, my editor at the University of Michigan Press, that insofar as I proposed to develop both these lines of argument, I aimed, unrealistically, to do too much, that I had in effect proposed two books. The reviewer thus recommended that I confine the focus of the book in question to the sort of conceptual work on impairment and disability that I introduced in my 2001 article, “On the Government of Disability.” I resisted this recommendation, however, because, at the time, I suspected (what I now firmly believe) that the phenomena of the two spheres are mutually constitutive and mutually reinforcing.

The task that I set out for myself, therefore, was to articulate a compelling argument in the book that would demonstrate a causal relation between the conception of disability that predominates in the discipline of philosophy and the demographics of the profession of philosophy; that is, I aimed to articulate an argument that would demonstrate that the medicalizing, deficit conception of disability that prevails in philosophy, according to which disability is a prediscursive and hence philosophically uninteresting fact-of-the-matter, facilitates and sustains the underrepresentation of disabled philosophers in fulltime faculty positions, while the continued lack of disabled faculty in the profession ensures the persistence of this state of affairs.

Needless to say, the ubiquity of ableism in both the discipline and profession of philosophy afforded me a substantial body of discouraging information with which to accomplish the task of elaborating an argument on the relation between prevailing philosophical assumptions about disability and the virtual exclusion of disabled people from adequate employment in philosophy.

As all three commentators have (each in their own way) pointed out, I argue in the first chapter (and throughout the book) that the metaphysical and epistemological status of disability remains largely naturalized in philosophy, including in feminist philosophy. My aim in the reconstructive-conceptual sphere therefore was two-fold: first, to undermine the philosophical assumptions that naturalize impairment and disability; and second, to expand upon the antifoundationalist conception of disability that I previously advanced. In my view, Foucault’s insights offer the most sophisticated and most politically and philosophically astute tools with which to denaturalize and debiologize disability in these ways, especially his understanding of power as productive rather than merely repressive.

In chapters one through three, especially, I historicize and relativize the categories of impairment and disability by drawing upon Foucault’s insights about genealogy, biopower, and racism against the abnormal; Ladelle McWhorter’s genealogy of racism and sexual oppression; Jesse Prinz’s claims about historical contingency; Dorothy Roberts’s work to debiologize social categories; David Wong’s arguments in support of relativism; and Ian Hacking’s insights about styles of reasoning and the classification of normality; as well as my own claims about (what I call) the diagnostic style of reasoning.

In short, I historicize and relativize the categories of impairment and disability by historicizing and relativizing the category of normality, arguing that when the category of normality is historicized and relativized, any category—such as disability—whose identity is established through identification of and departure from normality must itself be recognized as historically contingent and relative.

Although my arguments in these chapters were designed distinctly to show the historically contingent and culturally specific character of the categories of impairment and disability, many of these arguments are, nevertheless, pertinent to other social categories.

Through my efforts to historicize and relativize the apparatus of disability, I implicitly offer a response to the concern that some disability theorists have expressed according to which Foucault’s work is unsuitable for disability theory because, among other things, his arguments about the discursive construction of the body effectively eliminate the materiality of the body.

As Jane has indicated, in chapter three I point out that, with few exceptions, philosophers of disability and disability theorists who are critical of Foucault’s approach to the constitution of the body invoke the materiality of pain in order to argue that at least some aspects of impairment are essentially bad, are not socially constructed nor artifacts of discourse, but rather are fundamental features of disabled people’s lives that disability theory ought to address.

As Jane has also noted, my position on pain is not fully developed in the book. In the first chapter, however, I point out that philosophers tend to appeal to pleasure and pain, and other supposedly prediscursive biological phenomena, in order to discount relativism; furthermore, in chapter three, I incorporate my thoughts on pain into general remarks about the allegedly prediscursive, transhistorical, and transcultural character of human drives, emotions, sensations, and aesthetic experiences. I have tentative plans to more closely consider the historicity and cultural specificity of pain in a project that examines how impairment and disability are constituted in the subfields of cognitive science and experimental philosophy. Thus, I am happy that Jane referred us to Aly Patsavas’s article on the cultural relativity of pain.

Assumptions about historical specificity and cultural relativity motivate my remarks about the production of risk. Melinda’s comments on my work in these contexts raise several questions about how I use Foucault’s terminology and Hacking’s idea of styles of reasoning, how I understand risk, and how I conceive the relation between risk and styles of reasoning. Is risk a technology, as I indicate in the discussion of risk in pregnancy that appears in chapter five? Or, is risk rather a style of reasoning?

These questions are very interesting to a feminist philosopher of disability who draws on Foucault in combination with Hacking. Foucault used the term technology to refer to contingent operations of power, variously produced on the micro and macro levels, that govern human conduct, shaping subjectivities, discourses, and practices toward certain ends. I perceive a close fit between Foucault’s claims about technologies and Hacking’s claims about styles of reasoning. Hacking, although he acknowledges the significant influence of Foucault on his thought, is nevertheless an analytically-trained philosopher and historian of science; thus, it is not surprising that Hacking has found ways to meld Foucault’s insights with the insights of practitioners in his own fields of specialization—in this case, the work of historian of science, Alistair Crombie.

Like technologies for Foucault, styles of reasoning for Hacking (and styles of thinking for Crombie), bring into being objects, sentences, laws, and classifications, involving interactions between discourses, people, and things. Styles of reasoning can in addition be elements of more encompassing technologies which themselves are products of apparatuses of power. Technologies of normalization, for instance, encompass normalizing modes of thinking, as well as practices of measurement, classification, production, and division, which the modes of thinking have brought into being, interacting with and indeed producing the people subjected to these epistemologies and other practices.

Thus, I want to say that risk is a technology and, in addition, that this technology—and its cohorts, chance and probability—is facilitated by and through technologies such as probabilistic styles of reasoning, actuarial thinking, the statistical style, the diagnostic style, practices of prevention, regulations, safeguards, and so on, ultimately operating, as I assert in the book, in the service of neoliberal governmentality.

Catherine has introduced a number of vexing issues that circulate around two questions that she would like me to address. The first question concerns the role that I think first-person testimony should play in philosophical discourse and how philosophy must be reconfigured to enable these contributions. The second question—which, in some respects, is related to the first—concerns the direction in which I think philosophers of disability, feminist bioethicists, and other critical thinkers in close relation to bioethical theory should move once they acknowledge that the subfield of bioethics is a technology of government.

Although both these questions are extremely provocative, since my time is almost up, I will respond to only the second question, which, in some respects, will also provide a response to the first question.

In chapter five of the book, I offer one suggestion to the question of which direction should be taken (also see Tremain 2006). I assert that if analyses of prenatal testing and screening were to shift their emphasis to governmentality, that is, if theoretical analyses of these practices were redirected from their current location in the realm of bioethics and situated within the domain of biopolitics, the starting point of inquiry could shift from argumentative claims that take the impaired fetus as a natural kind to a thick description of the administrative, medical, prenatal, scientific, and discursive constitution of impairment by and through these technologies of normalization. Roberts, for one, has been engaged in work of this kind for quite some time now, especially with respect to the naturalization of race and gender (for example, see Roberts 1998, 2012).

In general, I am inclined to think that it is much too early in this biopolitical struggle to recommend normative conclusions and end points to which we should aim. In fact, I avoid doing so in the book for this reason, among others. A great deal of work lies ahead for us in order that we can explain what it means to identify bioethics as a technology of government; in order that we can elaborate what we require to investigate the ways that bioethics operates as a normalizing discourse in the service of neoliberalism; and in order that we can understand the extent to which neoliberal governmentality is productive of philosophy more generally at present. Indeed, I suspect that adequate identification, investigation, and understanding of bioethics as a technology of neoliberal government will require that we considerably revise, if not completely rewrite, ideas according to which philosophy is first and foremost a domain of intellectual inquiry.

I think, in the spirit of Foucault, that additional histories of the present, that is, genealogies of the current techniques, values, strategies, and tactics of bioethics, in particular, and of philosophy, in general, will be vital tools in the endeavour to show how the subfield of bioethics and increasingly philosophy itself operate as normalizing technologies of neoliberalism.  

In closing, I want to reiterate that one of my central aims in writing Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability was to explain how the conception of disability that predominates in philosophy, according to which disability is a naturally disadvantageous human characteristic, attribute, or difference, is inextricably implicated in the exclusion of disabled philosophers from the profession and the marginalization of philosophy of disability in the discipline. I would be dismayed if readers and listeners of the book were to neglect the mutually constitutive character of the two spheres of analysis that shape it, by focusing exclusively on the work that I do in one sphere or the other. I hope, therefore, that the pressing concerns that I have pointed out with respect to both the demographics of philosophy and the naturalized conception of disability that currently conditions the discipline and profession will inform our discussion in the remaining time today.

I want to end my remarks by once again thanking Jane, Melinda, and Catherine for their contributions to this panel. I also want to convey my gratitude to Jane who proposed the panel, to the conference organizers who accepted the proposal for the session, and to Tracy Isaacs, our chair, for her participation on the panel, as well as her ongoing support of my endeavours in other contexts, including on the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog. Finally, I want to thank all of you for your interest in my book.


Roberts, Dorothy E. 2012. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century. New York: The New Press.

Roberts, Dorothy. 1998. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Vintage Books.

Tremain, Shelley. 2015. This is What a Historicist and Relativist Feminist Philosophy of Disability Looks Like. Foucault Studies 19 June, 7-42. Special issue: New Work on Foucault and Disability.

Tremain, Shelley. 2014. Disabling Philosophy. The Philosophers’ Magazine(TPM) 65 (2): 15-17.

Tremain, Shelley. 2013. Introducing Feminist Philosophy of Disability. Disability Studies Quarterly 33 (4). Special issue: Improving Feminist Philosophy and Theory by Taking Account of Disability.

Tremain, Shelley. 2010. Biopower, Styles of Reasoning, and What’s Still Missing from the Stem Cell Debates. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 25 (3): 577-609. Special issue: Feminist Philosophy and Medical Biotechnologies.

Tremain, Shelley. 2006. Reproductive Freedom, Self-regulation, and the Government of Impairment in Utero. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 21 (1): 35-53. Special issue: Maternal Bodies.

Tremain, Shelley. 2005. Foucault, Governmentality, and Critical Disability Theory: An Introduction. In Foucault and the Government of Disability, Shelley Tremain ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Tremain, Shelley. 2001. On the Government of Disability. Social Theory and Practice 27 (4): 617-636. Special issue: Embodied Values. Disability and Philosophy.

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