What is Justice and the Democratic Debate?

Filed Under (Activism, Advocacy, autism, Law, Politics) by Estee on 08-06-2010

This lecture on TED.com by Michael Sandel (Harvard) constructs an argument using this case of Casey Martin and his need for accommodation on the golf course. He suggests that without engaging our moral convictions in a constructive argument, we are doing ourselves a disservice. In the autism sphere, it is very much time for these discussions where “engagement” has become very much like that “ideological food fight.” Some voices are stronger, indeed and others are downright nasty and others still use false facts to present a case. Yet, this is no time to back away. It’s time to think about how to engage ethically in the autism debate.

What is justice, Sandel asks his audience? Like Aristotle, Sandel agrees that justice cannot be determined without an understanding of the following:

1) What abilities we recognize as worthy of honour and recognition and,
2) the purpose of our social institutions.

It seems to me that these are, in fact, the essential questions that we can ask ourselves as we discuss and debate the bigger questions like “what is autism?” and “what kinds of help do autistics need to contribute to society?” The question pertinent here, of course, is how and if we regard autistic individuals as worthy and how we prove that we believe it.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.