Next Friday, March 26th (2021) I’ll be speaking as part of the British Postgraduate Philosophy Association’s seminar series. Below is the abstract for the talk – it’s titled Infantilization, Dehumanization & Cognitive Disability. I’ll be covering a good chunk of my Masters research so far.
Sign up for the seminar here. Big thanks to the BPPA for the opportunity.
Abstract: Infantilization, Dehumanization and Cognitive Disability
Dehumanization seems to be a feature in particularly egregious abuses such as genocide, eugenics, gendered violence, and slavery. Recent philosophical analyses have examined what, if anything, distinguishes dehumanization from other instances of discriminatory attitudes or social injustice. Most accounts focus on animalization or objectification. By the criteria of these accounts, cognitively disabled people are clearly dehumanized – yet they are often ignored or expressly excluded from consideration. Additionally, the solutions sometimes suggested for resisting or combatting dehumanization encounter specific challenges because of the vexed issue of personhood and cognitive disability.
This paper sets out an analysis of dehumanization which includes cognitively disabled people, and presents infantilization as a further, unexplored process of dehumanization. Drawing on feminist philosophy and philosophy of disability, existing theories of dehumanization, and empirical work on infantilization and cognitive disability, I argue that – as with other processes of dehumanization – the infantilization of cognitively disabled people is both a social injustice and a conceptual failure.