whole-thesis-2012.pdf (1.69 MB)
The role of friendship in our development as human beings
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 03:19 authored by Treanor, DP
The development of community living programs for people with intellectual disabilities in western nations is now both policy rhetoric and a feature of the service system landscape. This change in policy and practice has helped change - the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and has honoured claims for everyone to be treated as equal citizens with the same rights. This thesis develops the argument that although individuals may differ in both their chronological age and cognitive abilities, they can form and maintain meaningful friendships of different types, which incorporate diversity and in which the parties involved remain distinct individuals, though unified through their shared emotional life. To defend this claim it will be necessary to refute the claims of those utilitarian thinkers who would deny full human status to people with intellectual disabilities. Furthermore, it is argued there is validity to prioritising a relational view to personhood. The method adopted is broadly phenomenological by using analysis of actual personal narratives in order to take account of the historical and existential factors that operate in the development of friendships. Aristotle's theory that humans are social by nature, and that friendship is essential to human life is developed and applied in order to demonstrate that the interdependence of individuals and the enrichment that follows from human encounters enables us to realize our potential as human beings. This argument not only provides an ethical justification for people with intellectual disabilities to be treated as equal citizens and as having the same rights as other people, but it also provides us with a vision of human society and of our personal identity that can be realised and integrated through the experience of living and interacting together.
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