Opposition to Bill C-7 and Too Many Letters of Reference

No, this post isn’t taking on the important work done on The Philosophers’ Cocoon blog by advising philosophy job applicants about the appropriate contents of their dossier. Rather this post draws upon past interventions that I’ve made on BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY and on the earlier Discrimination and Disadvantage blog (here, here, and here) to reiterate that bioethics and prestige bias are inextricably intertwined in Canadian philosophy and to point out the deleterious effects that this mutually-reinforcing alliance continues to have on disabled philosophers in Canada, especially disabled philosophers of disability, and disabled people in Canada more generally.

As I have argued previously, bioethicists and in particular feminist bioethicists continue to condition the shape of philosophy departments in Canada. Some of these feminist bioethicists have gained considerable prestige in Canada, in large part due to their work on autonomy and MAiD (consider this post too), the latter of which is the acronym for legislation that facilitates medically-assisted suicide. Bill C-7, which is the latest culmination of the incremental normalization of ableism that these bioethicists have produced, specifically targets disabled people, with no end in sight. The influence of these (feminist) bioethicists can be identified in the rosters of department faculty across Canada and the placement data for Canadian departments.

As I intimated in a previous post about MAiD, this aspect of the insularity of Canadian philosophy is, contra Shannon Dea, the most significant continuing threat to freedom of speech in Canadian philosophy. Furthermore, this insularity also means that Canadian disabled philosophers (of disability) and disabled people in Canada more generally, have few allies and mentors in Canadian philosophy departments: too many reference letters have been written and read, too many of one’s colleagues have been hired on the basis of these letters, due to the influence of this prestige bias, and as a consequence of the constitutive effects of this insularity more broadly. In short, most philosophy departments in Canada (inadvertently?) bolster the devaluation of disabled people and the violation of their constitutional rights. Consider this illuminating article by Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry.

Canadian philosophy continues to be shaped by nondisabled feminist and other bioethicists, their epistemologies, the metaphysical assumptions about disability that they hold, their interests in medicalized approaches to disability, their biases and prejudices about disabled people, and, with regard to MAiD and Bill C-7 in particular, their lack of knowledge about disabled people, their lack of a critical political analysis of ableism, and their failure to recognize how constitutional law in Canada applies to disabled people.

If you are a disabled philosopher in Canada who feels, as I do, tremendously dismayed and betrayed by feminist philosophers in Canada, by the feminist editors of International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics in whose current issue an article appears that promotes MAiD, and by so-called “progressive” politicians in the New Democratic Party of Canada, I hope you find comfort and resilience from the list below. The list is a compilation of the leading disabled people’s organizations in Canada and allied organizations that oppose Bill C-7. Later this week, I will provide an updated set of links to articles and blogposts written in opposition to Bill C-7 from a variety of scholars in various contexts.

1. Council of Canadians with Disabilities

2. Canadian Association for Community Living

3. ARCH Disability Law Centre

4. People First of Canada

5. Canadian Mental Health Association

6. Canadian Disability Studies Association / Association candienne d’études sur le handicap

7. Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society

8. L’Arche Canada

9. Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship

10. The DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada / Réseau d’Action des Femmes Handicapées du Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada)

11. Barrier free Canada – Canada sans Barrières

12. Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet

13. Communication Disabilities Access Canada

14. Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians

15. Société québécoise de la déficience intellectuelle / Quebec Intellectual Disability Society

16. NWT Council for Disability

17. Independent Living Centre London and Area

18. BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society

2 Responses

  1. […] Last week, once again in the context of discussion abut MAiD, I returned to the subject of how bioethics and bioethicists continue to shape philosophy departments in Canada and Canadian public policy with respect to the lives of disabled people and the limiting effects that this institutional formation has on the range of views that are taught and valued in Canadian philosophy departments, on the opportunities available to disabled philosophers, and in regard to the perceptions and prospects of disabled Canadians in general. […]


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