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UC Prof Takes Closer Look at Approach to Justice for Persons with Disabilities

Riddle's Book, Disbaility and Justice, Challenges Capabilities Approach

Written By Colleen Bierstine '15, PR Intern

Professor releases new book


Utica, NY (03/17/2014)
- Is there justice in the capabilities approach?

Dr. Christopher Riddle, director of the Applied Ethics Institute and assistant professor of philosophy at Utica College, discusses just this in his book “Disability and Justice: The Capabilities Approach in Practice.”

Riddle explains, “The capabilities approach suggests that in order to promote justice, we need to provide people with a list of fundamental capabilities (or opportunities) to live a life worthy of human dignity.” This includes life; bodily health and integrity, senses, imagination, thought; practical reason; affiliation; other species; play and control over one’s environment.

“Disability and Justice” examines how, as a matter of justice, the experience of disability is accounted for within this approach. It suggests that the capabilities approach is unable to properly assess both those who are in need as well as the extent to which assistance is required.

The book – just released March 14 - argues that health and the absence of disability belong in a category of functionings that are of special moral importance, and that the capabilities approach fails to recognize this.

Riddle is also the editor of “From Disability Theory to Practice.” He has published in numerous journals, including the Journal of Social Philosophy; the American Journal of Bioethics; Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy; Topoi and Disability Studies Quarterly.

Riddle has been invited to conduct research at the Swiss Paraplegic Research Institute in Nottwil, Switzerland and has also advised for numerous national and international institutions, including Health Canada, The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, The National Disability Authority of Ireland and The International Development Committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Riddle’s current work focuses on the inability of existing conceptions of egalitarian principles of justice to adequately accommodate people with disabilities.

Riddle earned a BAH in philosophy/political studies and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Queen's University. He earned his MA in critical disabilities studies from York University.

For more information, visit https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780739178027 or amazon.com.

About Utica College – Utica College, founded in 1946, is a comprehensive private institution offering bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. The college, located in upstate central New York, approximately 90 miles west of Albany and 50 miles east of Syracuse, currently enrolls over 4,000 students in 36 undergraduate majors, 27 minors, 21 graduate, pre-professional and special programs.


Robert Halliday, Ph.D.
Associate Provost
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