Reason and Normative Embodiment in Plato's Republic: On the Philosophical Creation of Disability

Thomas Joseph Kiefer


This essay argues that the tendency to exclude individuals with disabilities from philosophical discourse is rooted in the attempt to apply rationally-derived principles to human embodiment.  To establish this thesis, this essay focuses on Plato's Republic as one of the first, foundational philosophical texts to specifically argue that a city governed by reasonableness should actively kill individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities because such individuals embody injustice as the lack of order. This essay concludes that because philosophical discourse is predicated upon on rationality and rational principles, the exclusion of individuals with disabilities due to considerations of normative conceptions of embodiment will always remain an inherent possibility within human reasoning. However, historical and contemporary attempts to philosophically derive a normative conception of human embodiment will also necessarily fail to adequately address human embodiment insofar as such rationalized schemas exclude individuals and deny inevitable borderline cases to appear rationally coherent.


Philosophy and Disability; Normative Embodiment; Plato; Reason; Euthanasia; Infanticide

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Copyright (c) 2014 Thomas Joseph Kiefer

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