Volume 1, 2021
Andrea J. Pitts
The Polymorphism of Necro-Being
Examining Racism and Ableism through the Writings of Leonard Harris
In this paper, I examine the writings of African American philosopher Leonard Harris as an author who has been read primarily for his contributions to the study of Africana philosophy, U.S. pragmatism, and moral philosophy. Despite contributions to bioethics and reflections on systemic racism within the context of institutional medical settings, Harris’s work has yet to be read in terms of its relevance for disability critique. This paper demonstrates how Harris’s writings may be read as contributing to the field of philosophy of disability by arguing that his concept of “necro-being” helps reveal the mutually reinforcing relationships between race, disability, gender, and class. To carry this out, I consider core themes from his work such as metaphilosophy, health, and autonomy to show the relevance of his writings for philosophy of disability, and, in a parallel manner, the importance of disability critique for expanding his accounts of oppression and racism.