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Philosophy and Theology

Volume 30, Issue 2, 2018

James B. Gould
Pages 447-477

Christian Faith, Intellectual Disability, and the Mere Difference / Bad Difference Debate

The mere difference view, endorsed by some philosophers and Christian scholars, claims that disability by itself does not make a person worse off on balance—any negative impacts on overall welfare are due to social injustice. This article defends the bad difference view—some disability is bad not simply because of social arrangements but because of biological deficits that, by themselves, make a person worse off. It argues that the mere difference view contradicts core doctrines of Christian faith. The analysis focuses on intellectual rather than physical or sensory disabilities.

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