In Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Questions via Disability Studies, Jennifer Scuro adds a philosopher's voice to the growing conversation about ableism and what we should do about it. Her examination considers the presence of ableism across the dimensions of experience, diagnosis, precariousness, and prosthesis, and crafts what she describes as her project to "address the ableist construction of disability in a philosophical, phenomenological way" (146). Scuro grounds her work in the writings of such philosophers as Plato, Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Emmanuel Levinas, and engages such contemporary scholars as Judith Butler, Tobin Siebers, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, and Shelley Tremain. The result is a provocative and complex book that brings to life Scuro's journey toward awareness of ableism's pervasiveness and power that largely began with the diagnosis of her daughter's autism.

Writing primarily for philosophers and choosing a Freirean path of problem-posing and inviting dialogue instead of articulating arguments and providing answers, Scuro's approach may discourage some readers. By addressing this particular audience, she occasionally engages questions, claims, and paradoxes that may appear esoteric or distract readers coming to the work outside of the academic discipline of philosophy. I believe, however, that raising such specialized concerns fits the expectations of that audience and it draws appropriately on their familiarity with different formulations of phenomenology and ontological assumptions about distinguishing metaphysical foundations of experience and existence.

I encourage those who come to this book from different backgrounds to slide past any such difficulties, as the work can appeal to many more audiences. Parents of disabled children, for example, should find much to learn (and, unfortunately, much to recognize) in Scuro's confrontations with and analyses of the systemic ableism that pervades the institution of "special education." Scuro aptly uses her accounts of frustrating encounters with this system to provide insight into how dangerous even the most innocuous seeming ableist ideas can be when left unexamined and unchecked. In particular, she dramatically demonstrates the everyday impact of unquestioned ableist assumptions in her tellingly familiar story of a "shit-show" of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting regarding her daughter. Moreover, Scuro's insightful critique of the ableist tendency to systematically "parent-blame" provides a reassuring commiseration for others who confront such attitudes when seeking out the best for their children.

Similarly, disability studies scholars from disciplines including critical/cultural studies, rhetoric, and sociology should find ample food for thought in her explorations of ableist thinking and the many ways that it influences and infiltrates society. Chapter two's examination of diagnosis adds a philosophical perspective to the project of exposing the sources and resources of the medical model and Scuro unpacks the ways that people are made complicit in their own subjectification as good patients who do what doctors say. Chapter four, "Precariousness," shows how ableism infests the neoliberal economic model and "sustains the unjustified inheritances of greater precarity for many" through the "fictive and fallacious" notion that "the most profitable and productive individuals are also the most valuable and deserving" (120). Chapter five, "Prosthesis," explores how able-bodied privilege and the untenable divide between independence and dependence operate as the lenses through which prostheses becomes understood and valued, which, among other things, raises valid questions about the limits of transhumanism as post-ableist philosophy.

I personally found chapter three to be the most interesting and valuable, which transcribes an extensive conversation between Scuro, Lydia X. Z. Brown, and Devonya N. Havis on the topics of intersectionality, interstitiality, and the ways that ableism reflects and differs from racism, sexism, and classism. This lengthy chapter—which makes up a third of the book—brings Scuro's positions into a thought-provoking conversation with Brown's and Havis' distinct views and different backgrounds. The unconventional result is to successfully move the book away from a traditional notion of authorship and to put into practice Scuro's desire to raise questions and only provide responses that are "speculative and meditative, but also … continue to be dialogical, rather than rhetorical" (149). As an ongoing dialogue, this chapter offers us a place to see Scuro clarify and extend her ideas in relation to others and can become an opportunity to find answers to questions that readers must typically leave unspoken.

As a scholar heavily influenced by Michel Foucault's theories of power, I occasionally wondered when reading the chapter on diagnosis how Scuro might respond to his ideas. Inevitably, these musings became scratched in the margins as queries I expected to leave forever unanswered. But in this third chapter Havis brought her own self-described "Foucauldian lens" (72) into the book and by engaging with her words I saw Scuro address the very questions I had found myself asking.

As an increasing number of disability studies scholars turn their attention to ableism, the diversity of questions we pose and the range of ideas we generate will inevitably inform significantly different views. In this context, one very important contribution of Scuro's book is to demonstrate how to accept the instability that any perspective on this problem must admit. As Scuro notes in the Epilogue, her purpose in this book is not to provide an "holistic symbiosis or synthesis of ideas for this philosophical exorcism (so-called) of ableism," but rather to scribe a "persistent partiality to all that is—especially that held precariously between the world and oblivion" (150).

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Copyright (c) 2021 Jim Cherney

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