When the failed 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney called 47 percent of the U.S. population “dependent,” the remark was widely perceived as an insult significant enough to negatively influence the outcome of his presidential bid. Yet if we step back, we well might ask why humans, who belong to a thoroughly social species, so despise dependence. Dependence on others allows for needed care, knowledge, culture, technology, and political, social, and economic goods—the sine qua non of human life in any era. A reliance on government services counts as a primary advantage of a modern, relatively well-ordered state. We might as well decry our dependence on air. There are historical, ideological, and structural reasons why we so often refuse to acknowledge our dependence (MacIntyre 1997). This refusal is evident with respect to disability.

Writers such as Michael Oliver have maintained that dependency itself is central to the fact that disability is …

This essay may be found on page 54 of the printed volume.

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