Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Disability: a justice-based account

Begon, Jessica

Disability: a justice-based account Thumbnail



Most people have a clear sense of what they mean by disability, and have little trouble identifying conditions they consider disabling. Yet providing a clear and consistent definition of disability is far from straightforward. Standardly, disability is understood as the restriction in our abilities to perform tasks, as a result of an impairment of normal physical or cognitive human functioning (in combination with our social, political, and environmental context, and our resource share). However, which inabilities matter? We are all restricted by our bodies, and are all incapable of performing some tasks, but most of these inabilities are not considered disabilities. If, then, we are to avoid the category of disability becoming overly broad—and thus politically and practically useless—we need some way of picking out the specific inabilities that are disabling. I argue that our answer should be informed by an account of the opportunities individuals are entitled to be able to perform as a matter of justice. Thus, to be disabled is to have these opportunities restricted, and not to deviate from the species norm or lack any ability that might improve our well-being.


Begon, J. (2021). Disability: a justice-based account. Philosophical Studies, 178(3), 935-962.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date May 18, 2020
Publication Date 2021-03
Deposit Date Jun 3, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 3, 2020
Journal Philosophical studies
Print ISSN 0031-8116
Electronic ISSN 1573-0883
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 178
Issue 3
Pages 935-962


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (380 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

You might also like

Downloadable Citations