Academic journal founded by university professor provides focal point for disability studies | Georgetown College

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September 29, 2022

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Tagged Disability Studies, Faculty, Philosophy

The Disability Philosophy Journallaunched last year by Joel Michael Reynolds, celebrates the publication of its second issue in November. Founded to examine issues of “disability, broadly defined”, it is the official journal of the Society for Philosophy and Disability and the first of its kind in a field defined by its intrinsic interdisciplinarity.

“The field of disability philosophy has been around since at least the 1990s, and it has grown steadily,” says Reynolds, who founded the journal last year. “But there has never been a dedicated scientific outlet for debates in the field to develop on their own terms and for researchers working in the field to have a very focused place to engage with each other. “

That all changed last year, when the first issue of the journal made waves in the field of disability studies. Reynolds, assistant professor at the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Philosophy and principal researcher at Kennedy Institute of Ethicsis one of the principal faculty members of the College Disability Studies Program. Bringing together funding and resources from disparate sources was essential to launch this project.

“I was grateful to work with the Center for Philosophical Documentation to get it up and running, thanks to very generous support from Georgetown University,” Reynolds said. “It wouldn’t exist without Georgetown, so I’m very grateful to them.”

Build space, invite conversation

A man with glasses stands in front of a neutral background wearing a black shirt and gray jacket.
Professor Reynolds.

Reynolds edits the journal alongside Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, professor of philosophy and bioethicist at Gallaudet University. In an opening salvo framing the journal’s purpose and intent, the two emphasized the need for such a journal.

“By virtue of the centrality of disability to all of life, the philosophy of disability is a field that cuts across nearly every area of ​​philosophical research,” they wrote. “The Journal of the Philosophy of Disability was founded to be a place for deepening philosophical debates around disability, that is to say a place for deepening philosophical debates on a central aspect of the human being.

The journal includes more than just peer-reviewed articles, which play an important role in the growth of the field as a unique academic space, and also publishes book reviews, editorials, guest articles from eminent scholars and even reprints of landmark works. In short, the journal is a home and a focal point for all things disability philosophy.

For Reynolds, the journal brings together two groups of people – those who are committed to developing disability studies in higher education through programs and initiatives and those who are committed to developing the research side, to through peer-reviewed articles and edited volumes.

“There’s a natural synergy here,” says Reynolds. “We need people to do this work – to do it together and to do it in conversation with each other. I think people are very happy that it exists, that it’s open access and that it sparks good debate, sparking real conversations rooted in the experience of disability.

The editor-in-chief is Sabrina Leeds, a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy. The work of the journal overlaps with that of the College Disability Studies Programproviding another platform for faculty and students to develop their studies and research.

“I hope the journal will spark conversations about what exactly Disability Philosophy is and how it differs, but always in conversation with, Disability Philosophy, Disability Studies, Philosophy of Medicine, bioethics and phenomenology,” Leeds said. “I think clarifying the differences between these fields, looking at what each of them can do for us, and outlining the ongoing conversations between them has the potential to provide us with new conceptual tools that could be practically useful for the purpose of disability rights activism and the pursuit of intersectional liberating projects.

The second issue promises to live up to this aspiration, exploring definitions of disability and how these interact with lived experiences. The journal includes an article by Thomas Nadelhoffer, a professor at the College of Charleston, which explores how people with chronic pain have been excluded from the discussion of disabilities. Another important piece comes from Feather Rebecca Kuklaprofessor in the Department of Philosophy and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and director of the Disability Studies program, on how illnesses are defined and how those definitions matter.

“Our main vision for the future is to enrich ongoing debate and research,” says Reynolds. “We build new areas of inquiry within the philosophy of disability and help support a growing community of disability philosophers.”

by Hayden Frye (CAS’17)

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