Emilio Santoro

Person, Order, Rights and Liberty. The Inadequacy of Normative Theories for the Debate on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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The essay addresses the debate on the rights of persons with disabilities starting from the contention that the cornerstone of liberal order is an anthropology based on a hierarchical order of desires. My thesis is in particular that this anthropology informs, lastly, Rawls’ Political Liberalism which proposes an ideal order in which the legitimacy of every claim is subordinated to the capacity of the subject to be “reasonableµ. On the other hand, following Marshall’s thesis, I suggest that social rights are based on a completely different anthropology, that of the consumer “irresponsibleµ for his/her preferences. In this framework paternalism is analyzed discussing the famous case of the dwarf claiming the possibility to be fired from the cannon even in contrast with the apparent protection of his dignity and the suggestion is advanced that rights cannot be conceived as part of an ideal order but as instruments of proceduralization of the political conflicts.


  • Person
  • Disability
  • Freedom
  • Rights
  • Paternalism


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