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Title: Can social contract theory fully account for the moral status of profoundly mentally disabled people?
Author: Beaudry, Jonas-Sébastien
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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My hypothesis is that social contract theory does not satisfactorily explain why we owe a serious concern or respect to profoundly mentally disabled individuals (PMD). This is a problem for social contract theories if we assume, like I do in this dissertation, that the PMD possess a robust moral status (RMS). My dissertation will explore the main strategies deployed by contractarian and contractualist theorists to bring the PMD within the purview of the social contract, in order to clarify why some aspects of their claims are promising but why they nonetheless fail to fully explain the robust moral status of the PMD. I notably find that they leave morally important dimensions of human relations out of the contractual frame, which means that they exclude the PMD from the scope of justice and morality when they claim that this contractual frame offers the only valid explanation to be a subject of justice and a moral patient. I do not conclude that this requires us to reject social contract theory altogether, nor do I count it as a reason to question whether the PMD have a robust moral status. In my concluding chapter, I will rather suggest a theoretical frame that has the potential of incorporating both contractual and non-contractual relations within the spheres of morality and justice, because both kinds of relation vehicle important intuitions about what is of value in human life. This dissertation will contribute to orientate future research on the moral and political grounds for the rights of profoundly mentally disabled people, as well as question or curtail the breadth of certain key assumptions of social contract theories.
Supervisor: Gardner, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law ; Human rights ; Philosophy of law ; Social justice ; social contract ; mental disability ; moral status