sunflower imageCognitive Disability: A Challenge to Moral Philosophy
September 18-20, 2008, Stony Brook Manhattan

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Conference Related Publications
Two books and a special issue of Metaphilosophy have been published based largely on the work done at this conference. 

Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy 
The Metaphilosophy Series in Philosophy has published a volume, edited by Eva Kittay and Licia Carlson, of essays revised from the presentations at the conference. This book is available here »

Co-editor Eva Kittay was recently interviewed in The New York Times Magazine's The Ethicist about the difficult moral challenges facing the caregivers of the cognitively disabled.

The Faces of Intellectual Disability: Philosophical Reflections
Licia Carlson has a volume out that expands on her work at this conference available here » In a challenge to current thinking about cognitive impairment, this book explores what it means to treat people with intellectual disabilities in an ethical manner. Reassessing philosophical views of intellectual disability, Licia Carlson shows how we can affirm the dignity and worth of intellectually disabled people first by ending comparisons to nonhuman animals and then by confronting our fears and discomforts. Carlson presents the complex history of ideas about cognitive disability, the treatment of intellectually disabled people, and social and cultural reactions to them. Sensitive and clearly argued, this book offers new insights on recent trends in disability studies and philosophy.

Metaphilosophy Special Issue
Metaphilosophy has published a special double issue, edited by Eva Kittay and Licia Carlson, of papers developed from the presentations given at the conference. The issues are Volume 40, numbers 3 and 4.

The realities of cognitive disability pose a significant challenge to certain key conceptions philosophers have held. Philosophers have conceived of the mark of humanity as the possession of rational cognitive capacities. They have traditionally extended the mantles of equality, dignity, justice, responsibility, and moral fellowship to those with these abilities, whom they speak of as "persons." What then should we say about those with severe cognitive disabilities? How should we treat these individuals and what sorts of entitlements can they claim?  Should we grant the arguments of some philosophers who want to parse our moral universe in ways that depend on degrees of cognitive capacity, not on being human? How do claims for the moral consideration of animals bear on the question? Is it morally acceptable to consign some human beings to the status of "non-persons?" Philosophers have rarely faced these questions squarely and systematically.


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