Honderich on ableism

Via The Leiter Report, The Guardian has a profile of Ted Honderich which includes the following:

Honderich may be in for further trouble with his revised edition of the Oxford Companion to Philosophy. He’s typically downbeat about his part in the original project. “I think I was only asked because I was considered reliable,” he says. “Other philosophers had said they would do it and then failed to deliver on deadline. I imagine they thought it wasn’t proper work for a philosopher.”

This time round, free from the constraints of the academic circus, he’s been free to make 300 additions, including “ableism” – “it basically means being condescending to cripples”.


Wow. Just fucking wow.

10 thoughts on “Honderich on ableism

  1. Wait, is that something he said, or is that the definition from the actual new Companion?

  2. It must be something he said. It’s certainly not the entry (which I don’t believe he wrote).

  3. Yeah, pretty sure it’s something the interview quotes him as saying, rather than what he’s reporting will be in the new version of the book.

  4. The new edition is already out–I just checked it, and that’s not what it says, so I think that’s his gloss on what he takes ableism to mean. Still horrifying.

  5. How can a grown adult say something so insensitive?

    It sounds like something a bright, but obnoxious 12 year old would say.

    That remark is not just a prejudice; it’s an aggression.

  6. What really pops out to me is the performative contradiction / irony in him adding albeism as a term (suggesting he thinks it’s important), but then describing it so disrespectfully.

    It evokes the same kind of cognitive dissonance as the joke:
    “Don’t be sexist. Broads hate that.”

    Except….it’s something someone actually said. /facepalm

  7. Do people read this is anything other than that same kind of joke? That’s how it reads to me, as unfunny as it might be. Odd that someone has dug this up from an interview 8 years ago.

  8. I guess I don’t see much reason to read it as a joke, given the context (and, well, how deeply unfunny it is). Of course it’s difficult to know, given that reporters can and do misrepresent what people say. But I guess it wouldn’t surprise me that this was something Honderich said flippantly and dismissively, rather than as an attempt at irony, given other things he’s said in the past.

    But even assuming – on the most charitable reading possible – that it was an attempt at irony, it’s a stupid and insensitive thing to say to a reporter.

  9. Without wanting to defend the philosopher or the quote, i feel we should recognize that reporter’ direct quotes may not be reliable. I’ve had two small misrepresentations recently that have left me wondering how they got there.

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