Florenturna – Die Kinder der Nacht: Band 1 (German Edition)

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They are not without their problems, but these theories remain widely used and cited precisely because they have withstood a great deal of criticism. As the dominant theories in sociology are discussed below, you might be inclined to ask, "Which of these theories is the best?

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In fact, it is probably more useful and informative to view these theories as complementary. One theory may explain one element of society better than another. Or, both may be useful for explaining social life. In short, all of the theories are correct in the sense that they offer compelling explanations for social phenomena. Structural-Functionalism is a sociological theory that originally attempted to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual biological needs originally just functionalism.

Later it came to focus on the ways social institutions meet social needs structural-functionalism. Structural-functionalism draws its inspiration primarily from the ideas of Emile Durkheim. He sought to explain social cohesion and stability through the concept of solidarity. In more "primitive" societies it was mechanical solidarity , everyone performing similar tasks, that held society together. Durkheim proposed that such societies tend to be segmentary, being composed of equivalent parts that are held together by shared values, common symbols, or systems of exchanges.

In modern, complex societies members perform very different tasks, resulting in a strong interdependence between individuals. Based on the metaphor of an organism in which many parts function together to sustain the whole, Durkheim argued that modern complex societies are held together by organic solidarity think interdependent organs. The central concern of structural-functionalism is a continuation of the Durkheimian task of explaining the apparent stability and internal cohesion of societies that are necessary to ensure their continued existence over time. Many functionalists argue that social institutions are functionally integrated to form a stable system and that a change in one institution will precipitate a change in other institutions.

Yet it is tendentious to point out that blind-from-birth individuals do not develop visual processing skills, and then to intimate that they must be epistemologically inferior to, or that their modes of knowing cannot rise to the epistemological significance of, sighted people. To the contrary, in some born-blind people, for instance, the area of the brain associated in most other people with visual processing appears instead to be a site for aural processing, meaning that a much larger part of the brain is available for dealing with information obtained through hearing than is the case for sighted people.

This biological difference is thought to explain why in many cultures blind individuals are taken to be endowed with legendary skills for remembering and transmitting the spoken word accurately and with heightened understanding of orally transmitted texts, Thus blind bards who preserve and perform lengthy gospels or narratives from an authoritative standpoint are familiar figures in the history of many cultures O'Neil Belgium's police force includes blind detectives who can listen to criminals' recorded conversations and by the reverberations of sound identify what kind of room they occupy, whether they are using a landline or cell phone, and even what kind of car they are traveling in or whether the suspect's Flemish carries an Albanian rather than a Moroccan accent Soares Yet this is almost never so, even where sighted people must find their way in the dark or distinguish among interlocutors beyond their vision.

The experiences of people diagnosed with cognitive impairments also usually are dismissed as epistemologically defective, judged against the philosophical ideal of the rational thinker. Some people described as cognitively impaired have anomalous patterns of cognitive skills, in some ways failing to attain, but in other ways exceeding, levels typical for the species.

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For example, individuals with Down Syndrome, who think abstractly only with difficulty or not at all, sometimes have greater than usual skills in perceiving, and remembering, the concrete details of what they see or hear. And people with Williams Syndrome quite often have greater social and emotional intelligence than is species-typical for humans, as well as unusual musical facility.

This is not even to mention the innovative insightfulness and creativity achieved by individuals with diagnoses of various kinds of psychoses and similar so-called mental disabilities, conditions experienced by many famed artists, writers and musicians. Such individuals usually are exempted from philosophy's scope as, for example, when epistemological theory discounts the judgments of blind people as irrelevant or unimportant to philosophical accounts of empirical knowledge, as philosopher Magee dismisses philosopher Milligan..

And people who lack abstract thinking skills, thereby diverging from the kind of human capability philosophers themselves exercise so well and enjoy so greatly, usually are dismissed as unimportant, that is, as not rising to philosophical considerability. People whose cognitive anomalies impede them from arriving at and articulating complex and rationalized accounts of their own good very often are not accorded full status, and sometimes even are denied considerability, by moral and political theories, including pluralistic liberal theories committed to respecting citizens' diverse values.

See McMahan and Kittay Yet, as Francis and Silvers Francis and Silvers , Silvers and Francis have pointed out, normally autonomous individuals do not arrive at, nor do they express, notions of their own good in isolation from, or independent of, their interactions with other people. Conceptualizations of the good of cognitively impaired people, developed through structurally similar collaborative interactions between them and others, deserve equal consideration in moral and political philosophy.

To account for the misfit between philosophical paradigms and their realities, the testimony or example of outliers such as blind people, and people with Down Syndrome or Williams Syndrome, typically is disallowed on the ground that it must be inherently flawed where it challenges or deviates from philosophical theory. Yet to disregard the standpoints, and thereby the performances and reports of the experienced world, of unusual people impoverishes philosophizing by diminishing the epistemological adequacy of philosophical accounts. Further, as an application of Miranda Fricker's analysis of epistemic injustice shows, the practice of systematically discounting belief claims made by people with disabilities should be condemned as testimonial injustice: Nor, to apply a lesson from feminist philosophy of science, can objective knowledge about disability be produced unless disabled people, including people with cognitive disabilities, are fully respected members of the community of inquirers see Longino Francis and Silvers have proposed an approach to constructing ideas of the good with full respect for and inclusion of the viewpoints of severely disabled persons Francis and Silvers , Silvers and Francis Like disabled people as a group, women as a group have been dismissed and displaced, condemned for not complying with biological or social paradigms and therefore denied authorization for the ways of knowing that inform their experiences.

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What they believe they know often has been rejected as merely epistemologically anomalous. In response, feminist epistemology has welcomed recognition of the legitimate influences of social location in arriving at knowledge claims, as well as the centrality of collaborative practices in the pursuit of knowledge. What is not so clear is whether feminist epistemology is as comfortable with the impact on knowing of other bodily differences. This is a question of whether different biological properties legitimately define different epistemological standpoints.

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Especially in the last part of the 19 th and the first part of the 20 th centuries, biological determinism was a potent tool used to oppress women through false testimony that science found them to be less capable of survival than men. Wary of promoting such determinism, feminist philosophy has been more engaged with the social rather than the biological phenomena identified with women. Feminist standpoint theory has been inclined to treat differences in cognitive styles as arising from socially induced gendered identities or roles rather than from biological traits or conditions that differentiate men from women.

Some of its proponents argue for the superiority of the styles associated with women. In the main, however, the operative notion for feminist theory is that epistemic authority is the product of a social award; there is no natural order in which the cognition of biologically fit individuals is most attuned to the actualities of the external world and therefore is superior. To a significant extent, however, standpoints defined in terms of disability are associated with characteristic biological differences.

This raises several questions for an epistemology of disability, especially one modeled on feminist theory, to explore. First, is characterizing standpoints with reference to biological differences inherently and onerously deterministic, so that one's body inescapably delineates one's cognitive destiny?

Second, does granting equal legitimacy to standpoints defined with reference to biological differences lead to irresolvable and debilitating epistemological relativism? And, third, will acknowledging the range of atypical for humans ways of knowing reveal a heretofore unimagined richness in what humans can know the world is like? The interplay of biological and social identities—whether these be innate, imposed, or embraced—has become a subject of first-order importance in disability studies as well as in feminist theory, and especially in philosophical ventures into disability scholarship.


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Feminists have been, by far, the most numerous of philosophical writers on the topic of disability identity. They have offered a rich variety of sophisticated approaches to the question of how the sensibilities and histories of people with very different kinds of limitations can be collected into a cohesive philosophical account. Some write from the perspective of a lifelong disability identity, others describe their transition into the world of disability, and still others write about disability without having experienced being disabled themselves. Further, no one should claim to be, or speak as or about, the typical disabled person.

The enormous diversity among disabled people, and the importance of reflecting all their differences in formulating disability theory, calls for sensitivity to nuance and context. Re formulations of feminist identity theory that can accommodate the many ways in which disabled people differ from each other as well as from nondisabled people are of special importance because they may be extrapolated beyond disability theory to illuminate issues about identities shaped by other kinds of differences. Unlike traditional ideas of race and sex, disability has always been understood to be a permeable classification.

Some people have lived at length or lifelong with disability, some are newly so, and others have lived through periods in which they were disabled but now are not so.


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  • A large number of us should expect to become disabled later in our lives. And many of us find ourselves intimately involved in the lives of family members or friends who now are disabled or who face a future of disability.

    Further, as Eva Kittay reminds us, social policies that pertain to disabled people also affect their family members, friends and professional caregivers Kittay ; Kittay So feminist disability theory should recognize that disability affects the identities of many people beyond the million worldwide who are themselves disabled Herr, Gostin, and Kuh Disability identity may be claimed for a variety of very different reasons. Sometimes being identified as disabled offers access to government benefits of various kinds. Sometimes being understood to be disabled triggers acceptance of or accommodation to atypical modes of functioning.

    And sometimes disability identity is claimed as an empowering element of a political process intended to consolidate a group of people sufficiently numerous and vigorous to challenge stigmatization, exploitation, and exclusion based on disability. As the reasons for these disparate purposes for identifying as disabled diverge, so do the criteria or conditions for judging individuals to be disabled, as well as the inducements to individuals to understand themselves primarily in terms relating to disability.

    The inclusiveness of the various identity theories promoted in feminist philosophy is of preeminent and persistent concern to women with disabilities. Feminist philosophy validates and valorizes activities women typically execute and in which they excel, such as theories of maternal ethics that center on mothering as preeminent moral conduct. But not all women are admitted to women's roles.

    Even in the most progressive contemporary societies, women with disabilities encounter opposition to their maintaining fertility, or accessing reproductive medical technology in achieving fertility, or even retaining custody of the children to which they have given birth. Karin Barron, who has conducted extensive research on the lives of young women with disabilities, observes that we place great value on the womanly art of caring for dependents, but the traditional dependent position of young women with disabilities prevents them from occupying, and therefore from demonstrating any aptitude for, this role We should be clear that what precluded the young women Barron studied from being homemakers and mothers was not their lack of potential for serving in these roles but, instead, their having been assigned to an alternative social position, one defined in terms of such dependence that their capacity to nurture others became virtually inconceivable.

    Licia Carlson has shown that a gendered process of conceptualizing social roles even affected the diagnostic classification of mental retardation.


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    4. The Antiquities of Athens; and Other Monuments of Greece. As Measured and Delineated by the authors. (Elibron Classics).

    She has explored the complex interconnections that characterize the linked history of cognitive disability and gender oppression. Carlson points out that while superintendents of institutions that warehoused intellectually disabled people were mostly male, women were employed to go out and identify cases of feeblemindedness on the theory that they were more intuitive by nature and therefore better qualified for the job.

    This was an era when normal women were presumed to have a leading role in defending society against moral weakness of the sorts for which the feebleminded were feared, based on a notion about women's commitment to maintain community virtue for protection of the young. While there is value in acknowledging human vulnerability and dependence, Carlson observes, feminists should be as concerned about placing persons with intellectual disabilities in such mirror roles as about making third world feminism a mirror for Western feminism Carlson ; also see Narayan Carlson's analysis should compel feminist philosophers to reconsider their understanding of cognitive disability.

    Feminist philosophers are not immunized by their philosophical persuasion against their having limitations such as ignorance of the lived realities of people with intellectual disabilities, the nature of intellectual disability, and the historical basis of this category Carlson , As feminists have questioned the privileged status of masculine ways of thinking, Carlson questions whether some feminists privilege their own modes and levels of cognition Carlson They should, further, ask whether they have constructed feminist philosophizing in terms that make intellectual endeavor too central an undertaking.

    Eva Kittay makes this point penetrating, poignant, and personal when she describes the transformative insight occasioned by being told that her child is congenitally mentally retarded:. A somewhat similar dilemma about the preeminent value of intellectual skills may confront people who acquire a cognitive disability later in their lives. Kate Lindemann and Ann Davis both write about the effects that experiencing the sequelae of head injuries had on their beliefs about cognition.

    Lindemann's critique points to radical and profound ways in which feminist appreciation of the diverse workings of mind can enlarge philosophical inquiry. Feminist theory stands to gain by paying new attention to philosophical issues that should be rethought to reflect the situation of adults with brain injuries: Recognizing that some individuals have invisible disabilities should remind us, Davis observes, of the extent to which we always are epistemologically dependent on people's disclosures of their own identities.

    Davis rejects the presumption that we can clearly separate voluntary from inadvertent limitations.