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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses confusions that contribute to seemingly essential conceptual contestation about whether being disabled is not just being different but is inescapably bad. There are two generally accepted main functions for which models of disability are formulated and used: (1) categorizing individuals as being disabled or not and (2) explaining why people experience limitations due to disability. Conceptualizing disability as a “term of art” is the currently common, but narrowly useful, approach to engaging with the first function. The broader second function is explored by considering a flawed model of disability constructed for policy purposes and discovering how modeling disability for explanatory purposes can go wrong. Finally, the chapter shows what goes wrong for aspirational and epistemic justice when a more controversial third function, modeling disability appraisively, is pursued to advance the claim that being disabled is not merely a difference but is inveterately, even if not definitively, bad.

Keywords: essentially contested concepts, conceptual model, explanatory model, Appraisive Model, terms of art, aspirational Justice, epistemic justice

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