Philosophy and Disability


In the past fifty years, the concept of disability has productively transcended the medical, psychiatric and rehabilitative domains. It has been defined, to name some examples, as the result of social exclusion, as a cultural trope, as a territory of political struggle and resistance, as a multi-faceted experience that emerges from the several inter-relational aspects of daily life, or as a neutral or even positive space.

Since Disability Studies is a trans-disciplinary area, the research on disability has benefitted from the contributions, methodology, and conceptual tools of many different fields. Disability has been explored from the perspectives of Sociology, Art, Anthropology, Law, Literary and Cultural Studies and the Humanities at large.

Regarding the latter field, it has been pointed out that disability, even though not always explicitly addressed, “pervades” nonetheless “language and literature”: as a concept, as an image, or as a metaphorical crutch (Mitchell, Snyder, 2000; Snyder, Brueggemann, Garland-Thomson, eds., 2002). Despite this intrinsic abundance, however, disability is still largely unrecognised as a topic of academic interest, especially in the Humanities, in what David Bolt and Claire Penketh define as a form of “disciplinary avoidance” (2015) – the reasons for which should be investigated.

The scholars and researchers would therefore be invited to deepen our understanding of the possible intersection between Philosophy and disability. They would be invited, on one hand, to examine how Philosophy can be a suitable starting platform in order to address several issues related to disability, and, on the other hand, to explore how the analyses on disability may significantly impact Philosophy. We aim therefore to bring forth philosophical inquiries that investigate, among the possible topics, disabled people’s lived experiences; emerging ethical challenges; social and political implications of ableism; theoretical foundations of disability, examined through a philosophical lens.

The Special Issue aims to explore a wide range of philosophical topics related to disability, including but not limited to:

I) Examinations of various philosophical perspectives and frameworks for understanding disability, including the social model, the cultural model, the relational model and the capabilities approach.

II) Ethical considerations concerning disability, such as questions related to autonomy, dignity, justice, violence, and the ethics of care.

III) Epistemology inquiries into how disability affects knowledge, perception, and cognition.

IV) Explorations of disability's influence on art, aesthetics, and the perception of beauty.

V) Discussions on disability rights, social policies, and disabled people’s participation or exclusion from citizenship.

VI) Phenomenological analyses of lived experiences, that include the embodiment of disability and the material encounters with the world. Philosophers’ first-person experiences and accounts would also be positively valued in this regard.

VII) Analyses of the role of disability in language, in the discursive realm, in the creation of meaning, and in the construction of metaphors, including the investigation of how philosophical language and theorization could contribute to ableism, disablism, and disabled’s people exclusion.

VIII) Investigation of disability through the lens of humanism and/or its critical stances (Anti-Humanism, Philosophical Posthumanism, Transhumanism, New Materialisms, and so on).

Intersectional analyses, which explore how disability interacts with, and impacts, other social categories such as race, gender identity, sexuality, and class, would be greatly welcomed. Furthermore, contributions could cover a wide array of historical and geographical frameworks, from Ancient Philosophy towards Contemporary Philosophy – not only from a Western perspective.


Deadline for submissions: 30 September 2024

Publication of the Special Issue: July 2025

 We anticipate that submissions will come both through solicitations and this open Call. Papers should be between 8000 and 10,000 words (including abstracts, footnotes, and references). Only papers in English will be accepted. For further information do not hesitate to contact the editors (brunella.casalini[at]; chiara.montalti[at]