Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Disability, Impairment, and Marginalised Functioning

Webster, Aness Kim; Jenkins, Katharine

Disability, Impairment, and Marginalised Functioning Thumbnail


Katharine Jenkins


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 [2016], and Dana Howard and Sean Aas [2018], 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.


Webster, A. K., & Jenkins, K. (2021). Disability, Impairment, and Marginalised Functioning. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 99(4), 730-747.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 12, 2020
Online Publication Date Aug 31, 2020
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Oct 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 31, 2022
Journal Australasian Journal of Philosophy
Print ISSN 0004-8402
Electronic ISSN 1471-6828
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 99
Issue 4
Pages 730-747


Accepted Journal Article (490 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
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 (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations