Response: Making yourself useful

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this essay I reply to Stanley Hauerwas’ reading of my book, Life as We Know It, by way of engaging Hauerwas’ critique of Enlightenment humanism, and, more specifically, the Kantian categorical imperative. I argue that Hauerwas is mistaken to claim that “humanism cannot help but think that, all things considered, it would be better if [the mentally handicapped] did not exist,” even as I agree in part with his trenchant critique of my own work and of the widely-accepted Kantian proposition that human beings should treat each other as ends in themselves, never as means to an end. Finally, I defend my antifoundationalist formulation of moral “obligation” with regard to persons with mental disabilities against Hauerwas’s Christian critique thereof by noting that even Hauerwas, at a critical juncture of his argument, relies on a pragmatist, antifoundationalist understanding of what it means to “help” other humans- and what it means to make oneself useful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCritical Reflections on Stanley Hauerwas' Theology of Disability
Subtitle of host publicationDisabling Society, Enabling Theology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781136432767
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine
  • General Health Professions
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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