Raymond Aldred

I am currently completing my Masters degree at the University of Calgary, and writing my thesis on cognitive disability and agency. Prior to my current degree, I completed an honors degree at the same educational institution and wrote my thesis on disability and the body. I am largely interested in philosophical questions about disability, philosophy of sex, philosophy of love, neurophilosophy, philosophy of mind, neuroethics and ethics.

The condition I have been blessed with is the degenerative muscle disorder Muscular Dystrophy wherein my body slowly deteriorates around me, I become weaker, and there is very little I can do about it. As such, I have used many modes of performances to get around in my life: I went from walking, to using a manual wheelchair nearing the end of my undergraduate degree, to currently using a power wheelchair. My disability is very visible, and therefore it is accompanied by many wonderful attitudes and assumptions about me: people wonder if I can love, have sex, compete philosophically, and succeed on my own. These assumptions I believe have lead to a degree of marginalization and social isolation which I struggle to free myself from. No doubt, my peculiar embodiment has led to a unique philosophical perspective on matters people rarely think about and it motivates me to do the philosophical work that I do.

My philosophical career has been met with various structural barriers that frustrate my success in an academic setting, from surprisingly having to write my GRE without accommodation, to not being able to go to conferences because of not being able to afford to pay an assistant to attend with me. However, along the way, I have met many people who I share deep friendships with, and who share in my frustrations. As I prepare to hear back from universities about my PhD prospects I am a bundle of nerves, but it is nice to find some solidarity that there are other philosophers out there who have succeeded, in spite of being under-represented in academia.