Nathan Moore on the Exclusion of Disabled Philosophers From Philosophy, MAiD, and the Relation Between Them

On Monday of this week, Canadian disabled philosopher Nathan Moore, who was interviewed in the Dialogues on Disability series in October 2020, wrote a thread on Twitter about the exclusion of disabled philosophers from Canadian philosophy, in particular, and the profession of philosophy, in general; MAiD and the culture of eugenics in Canadian philosophy and Canada more broadly; the integral role of Canadian bioethicists in the production of these states of affairs; and the importance of philosophy of disability in order to resist the ableism that holds sway in Canadian philosophy (and philosophy more generally). The thread went viral on Twitter and deserves to be broadcast widely. Thus, I have copied it below. You can find the original thread on Nathan Moore’s Twitter page here.

On July 11, 2022, Nathan Moore wrote the following thread on Twitter:

Philosophers need to recognize and take responsibility for the way they not only reproduce systemic ableism, but expand and worsen its effects. 1/18

Both philosophers in general and some specific philosophers in particular are complicit in the legislated murders of disabled people in Canada. 2/18

Of course, philosophers who support the MAID (medical assistance in dying) legislation in Canada don’t think anyone is being murdered because they think those murdered have made a “free choice to end their suffering”. 3/18

Such philosophers ignore, or minimize, the role of social injustice in creating that suffering. 4/18

When a disabled person wants to end their life because of suffering caused by social injustice they are not making a free choice. The choice is made as a result of the lack of freedom those social injustices impose. 5/18

We already have confirmed cases of people asking for, and being granted, MAID due to legislated poverty (that is, poverty that results from lack of commitment to addressing ableism in employment along with insufficient social assistance rates). 6/18

Jocelyn Downie and Udo Schüklenk claim concerns about coercion aren’t warranted because (i) a handful of justices have “reviewed the evidence” for that conclusion and have found it wanting 7/18

and (ii) that many recipients of MAID have been younger, reasonably well-off financially, not institutionalized, and married. 8/18

They don’t bother to engage with the disabled communities’ criticisms of the evidence they mention nor criticisms of its interpretation as evidence against concerns of coercion. 9/18

Because of (ii) they conclude that “MAiD is unlikely to be driven by social or economic vulnerability.” Apparently disabled people who are young, not institutionalized, and married are thereby protected from ableism and social injustice…. 10/18

It’s common to see sloppy work when someone is expressing ableism (or otherwise discriminatory ideas) since such work fails to properly engage with the relevant marginalized community. 11/18

Such as the work of bioethics who pretend that the field of disability studies either doesn’t exist, is somehow illegitimate, or is irrelevant to their work (not all that dissimilar to certain attitudes toward critical race theory). 12/18

But it isn’t just philosophers such as Udo Schüklenk that produce work explicitly about MAID type legislation that are complicit. Philosophers that promote problematic understandings of concepts that support Downie and Schüklenk’s arguments are complicit as well. 13/18

As are philosophers that refuse to address the ableism, and other forms of discrimination, within the discipline of philosophy which, to be blunt, is most philosophers. 14/18

We need fair and equitable representation of disabled, and other marginalized people, within philosophy departments and in other positions of power, such as editorial review boards, within the discipline and we need it NOW. 15/18

We also need fair and equitable representation of subfields such as philosophy of disability. 16/18

Finally, we need ways to hold philosophers accountable for the harm they cause since they clearly aren’t interested in finding ways to hold themselves accountable. 17/18

There is far too much focus on the role of politicians in creating and maintaining social injustices and far too little on the role played by academia and, in particular, the arts and humanities. 18/18

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