Monday, May 30, 2011

W(ork) I(n) P(rogress) : 1

Enfranchising the cognitively disabled...


There is little inter-jurisdictional consensus on the role played by cognitive disability in determining political inclusion.  That is, different jurisdictions treat the cognitively disabled significantly differently, in terms of their entitlement to vote, the restrictions place upon them in the exercise of both voting rights and other aspects of political participation, and in terms of the tests or thresholds that they must pass in order to be politically included.  In this article, I ask whether there is any reason to favour some particular approach to the enfranchisement of the cognitively disabled.  Potential reasons to favour a particular approach can be found in the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRDP), in our democratic theory, particularly those aspects which limit the legitimate reasons to deny people rights to participation, and occasionally in the domestic law of particular jurisdictions, where the question of the enfranchisement of the cognitively disabled has arisen and been addressed.  I argue in light of these considerations that we should favour an inclusive approach to the enfranchisement of persons with cognitive disabilities, in which we only sparingly exclude these persons from political participation, and where possible, we provide them with opportunities to show that they are capable of participation.  For all who take these opportunities, we should, of course, enfranchise them.

The structure of the article is as follows.  In the first section, I describe the differing approaches taken to the enfranchisement of the cognitively disabled across a range of jurisdictions.  This explication is intended both to highlight the lack of agreement among the international community as to the best way to approach the enfranchisement of the cognitively disabled, and to illustrate the broad range of currently instantiated approaches that are available as options.  In section 2 I analyse the different sources that can bear on the question.  Using the examples discussed in section 1 I analyse the requirements imposed by the UNCRPD, by democratic theory, and by relevant aspects of jurisdiction specific legal practice.  Finally, I suggest that having taken all these into account, the approach to the enfranchisement of those with cognitive disabilities that best achieves our obligations is an inclusive one, in which significant numbers of the cognitively disabled are entitled to participate.


Hoping to get this one wrapped in the next week or so.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pessimistic advice from Luciano Floridi

 In the latest Figure/Ground interview, Luciano Floridi has the following to say about deciding to become an academic:

In the humanities, and especially in philosophy, I would strongly urge the student to reconsider the choice. The positions are so few, the competition so high, the sacrifices before obtaining a permanent job (tenure) so many and tough, that pursuing an academic career looks unreasonable when, with half the brain and efforts, one would get a much better chance of enjoying the handful of decades at one’s disposal. So the advice is: do not do it, unless you absolutely cannot help doing it, in which case no advice is necessary anyway.

Not such a positive outlook.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Virtual Friendships!

Forthcoming in Ethics and Information Technology.  Draft up on my page at

Short version:  People can and do make friends (solely) online.  This is compatible with thinking of friendship from within the Aristotelian tradition, and it raises some interesting issues for discussion of special relationships and obligations.