Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Philosophy

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 179 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jonathan Mandle

Committee Members

Kristen Hessler, Monika W. Piotrowska


Disability, Mental Impairments, Political Philosophy, Rawls, People with mental disabilities, Sociology of disability, Equality, Right to health, Justice (Philosophy), Reciprocity (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Disability Studies | Philosophy


In this dissertation, I add to the literature in the following way. First, I review the existing criticisms of Rawls’s theory of justice, which claims that he is unable to address the question of justice for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Second, I explain how Rawls’s idea of reciprocity can accommodate some forms of disability but not the more severe cases. Third, I develop an account of a right to political identity that can provide an extension of Rawls’s theory to address the more severe cases of disability. From these steps, I will suggest that these changes will allow us to address the problem of institutionalized stigma that individuals with intellectual disabilities often experience. Segregating, creating negative stereotypes, and discouraging persons with intellectual disabilities from being a part of the political process are core violations of their right to a political identity.