Author:Katja M. Stoppenbrink (University of Münster)
Paper short abstract:
While species-typical functioning may still constitute an adequate point of reference for our practices of disability compensation, in our quest for what it means to be human we will have to get used to humans with atypical capacities (‘disabilities’ or else) – and still recognize them as equals.
Paper long abstract:
In a 2009 paper Jonathan Wolff distinguishes four forms of disability compensation, i.e. cash compensation, personal enhancement, status enhancement and targeted resource enhancement. He argues for the latter, cash benefits to be used for certain specified purposes, avoiding the intricacies of cash compensation in luck egalitarian theories on equality of welfare (see, e.g. Ronald Dworkin 2000). However, speaking about 'disability compensation' implies a normative understanding of the human body and its 'normal' or 'species-typical' functioning. Disability compensation thus operates against the backdrop of the 'medical model' of disability and presupposes an idea of 'Aristotelian loss' (Kathleen V. Wilkes 1988). We have to consider the un(der)developed capacity or the 'missing' potential to even develop a species-typical capacity as a deficit if we call for its 'compensation'. Considering possible or conceivable future technological developments such as the use and implantation of prostheses by people with disabilities a further strategy may be bodily compensation whereby the boundaries of 'disability compensation' and 'human enhancement' are becoming increasingly blurred. On conceptual grounds both expressions refer back to the deficit model of disability. Yet, as Margrit Shildrick (2015) has recently argued, "rehabilitation to normative practice or appearance is no longer the point". It is claimed that such an assertion is too underdetermined. While species-typical functioning may still constitute an adequate point of reference for our legally relevant practices such as competitive sports, health care payments, etc., in our quest for what it means to be human we will have to get used to humans with atypical 'human' capacities - and still recognize them as equals.
Enhancement Cultures and Future Bodies