The Faces of Intellectual Disability

The Faces of Intellectual Disability

Philosophical Reflections
Licia Carlson
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/27/2009
ISBN: 978-0-253-00394-2
Bookmark and Share

Available through various retailers

Other formats available:


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.

Author Bio

Licia Carlson has written numerous articles on philosophy and disability and is the co-editor of Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy. She is an assistant professor of philosophy at Providence College.


"Will have a significant impact on philosophical bioethics." —Hilde Lindemann, Michigan State University

"A bold, critical intervention into the domains of disability studies, philosophy, and bioethics." —Lisa Diedrich, Stony Brook University

"Through her linguistic skill, Carlson renders complex ideas ascertainable. . . . [This] project is a sound and worthy foundation on which to build a more complete analysis in this growing area of scholarship." —

"The Faces of Intellectual Disability illuminates exquisitely the epistemological and normative commitments and implications of various philosophical accounts. As such, it is a valuable addition to the philosophical literature on intellectual disability." —Teachers College Record

"Carlson provides a valuable, in-depth exploration of the philosophical and moral underpinnings of understanding of persons with intellectual disabilities. . . . This will be vital resource in a variety of disciplines. . . . Highly recommended." —Choice

"[P]rovides a rigorous philosophical analysis of how the outsider’s viewpoint of ID in particular (generalizable to disability as a whole) will blind, cripple, and even retard (puns intended!) theological work, and that only historical illumination and serious interaction with the perspectives of those with ID or their caretakers can help do justice to the issues at hand." —Journal of Religion, Disability & Health

"Licia Carlson's The Faces of Intellecual Disability breaks new ground in disability studies, bioethics, philosophy, cultural sudies, and social justice studies generally." —Disability Studies Quarterly

"Carlson's book is a significant addition to the welcome burgeoning of philosophical literature about disability generally and intellectual disability specifically." —Social Theory and Practice

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

A Note on Terminology
Introduction: The Philosopher's Nightmare
Part 1. The Institutional World of Intellectual Disability
1. Twin Brothers: The "Idiot" and the Institution
2. Gendered Objects, Gendered Subjects
3. Analytic Interlude
Part 2. The Philosophical World of Intellectual Disability
4. The Face of Authority
5. The Face of the Beast
6. The Face of Suffering
Conclusion: The Face of the Mirror
Selected Bibliography