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The Journal of Philosophy of Disability

Volume 1, 2021

James B. Gould
Pages 145-173

Living in Nowheresville: David Hume’s Equal Power Requirement, Political Entitlements and People with Intellectual Disabilities

Political theory contains two views of social care for people with intellectual disabilities. The favor view treats disability services as an undeserved gratuity, while the entitlement view sees them as a deserved right. This paper argues that David Hume is one philosophical source of the favor view; he bases political membership on a threshold level of mental capacity and shuts out anyone who falls below. Hume’s account, which excludes people with intellectual disabilities from justice owing to their lack of power, but includes them in charity, is morally deficient. The shortcomings of Hume’s theory underscore the necessity of having a view of justice which ensures that people with intellectual disabilities are not marginalized. In defending the entitlement view, I integrate philosophical analysis and concrete examples of policy issues.