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The late singer-poet-novelist Leonard Cohen entitled one book of verse Let Us Compare Mythologies. In a sense, all of the chapters in this Part ask us to do exactly that. I do not mean “mythology” in a pejorative sense, but in all its anthropological splendor: taking facts on the ground and understanding them as part of a coherent sense-making worldview, albeit one that may not be falsifiable in a standard sense. But if that still seems pejorative, perhaps we might instead say “Let Us Compare View-Masters,” a reference to the red stereoscopic viewers that have delighted children (and adults) for decades by allowing us to enter static renderings with depth perception of lands real and imagined.
The chapters in Part I of this volume, “Disability: Definitions and Theories,” might just as easily be characterized as “The Perils of ‘Normal.’” Using philosophical methods, each of the chapters seeks to undermine assumptions made by those without disabilities about the moral lives of those with disabilities.
Historically and across societies people with disabilities have been stigmatized and excluded from social opportunities on a variety of culturally specific grounds. In this collection, the authors explore the impact that the philosophical framing of disability can have on public policy questions, in the clinic, in the courtroom, and elsewhere. They examine the implications of this understanding for legal and policy approaches to disability, strategies for allocating and accessing health care, the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, health care rights, and other legal tools designed to address discrimination. This volume should be read by anyone seeking a balanced view of disability and an understanding of the connection between the framing of disability and policies that have a real-world impact on individuals.