One challenge in providing an adequate definition of physical disability is that of unifying the heterogeneous bodily conditions that count as disabilities. We examine recent proposals by Elizabeth Barnes , and Dana Howard and Sean Aas , and show how this debate has reached an impasse. Barnes’s account struggles to deliver principled unification of the category of disability, whilst Howard and Aas’s account risks inappropriately sidelining the body. We argue that this impasse can be broken by using a novel concept—marginalised functioning. Marginalised functioning concerns the relationship between a person’s bodily capacities and their social world—specifically, their ability to function in line with the default norms about how people can typically physically function that influence the structuring of social space. We argue that attending to marginalised functioning allows us to develop, not one, but three different models of disability, all of which—whilst having different strengths and weaknesses—unify the category of disability without sidelining the body.
This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Australasian Journal of Philosophy. Webster, Aness Kim & Jenkins, Katharine (2021). Disability, Impairment, and Marginalised Functioning. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99(4): 730-747. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.