By Rebecca Garden

About Rebecca Garden

Rebecca Garden is Associate Professor of Bioethics and Humanities at Upstate Medical University, where she is Director of the Health Care Ethics course and Executive Director of the Consortium for Culture and Medicine. She has published on illness, disability, narrative, and health care in journals such as New Literary History, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Disability Studies Quarterly, and the Journal of Clinical Ethics.


Ethics is a field of philosophical inquiry that investigates questions of just or right actions and what sort of life is considered good. Ethics addresses individual experiences of goodness in life and individual moral actions, as well as the morality of the collective: questions of social responsibility and justice. Ethical analyses traditionally take place in relation to principles, norms, and standards. In order to establish ethical principles to guide individual behavior, it is necessary to make generalizations about what is good or what is right and what constitutes harm.

As a field of study, however, ethics is made even more ethical when challenged by the perspectives of those who are believed to fall outside of the norms that have shaped it. Disability studies not only deconstructs the norms of mainstream moral philosophy but also has challenged the very conception of the norm and thus the way that many ethical analyses …

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