The Life Worth Living

Out now from The University of Minnesota Press!

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Ableist Conflation

Part I. Pain

1. Theories of Pain

2. A Phenomenology of Chronic Pain

Part II. Disability

3. Theories of Disability

4. A Phenomenology of Multiple Sclerosis

Part III. Ability

5. Theories of Ability

6. A Phenomenology of Ability

Conclusion: An Anti-Ableist Future





Praise for The Life Worth Living:

“Joel Michael Reynolds’s The Life Worth Living is the most insightful analysis of pain since Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain. His phenomenology of foreboding, beholdenness, bioreckoning, and disruption is brilliant. And his critical engagement with ableist assumptions that run throughout the history of thought and continue into contemporary medical discourses powerfully demonstrates that these discourses continue to conflate disability, pain, and harm in ways that devalue ‘disabled’ lives.”
—Kelly Oliver, Vanderbilt University

“In this philosophically ambitious and deeply personal book, Joel Michael Reynolds exposes the ableist mistake that has afflicted philosophy at least since Socrates asked what makes a life worth living. To repair the damage done by that mistake, Reynolds exhorts us to stop looking for the worth of human lives in individual ‘normate’ bodies and to start building systems of access and care that make it possible for people with all sorts of bodies to flourish. Anyone committed to understanding what disability justice requires should read this book.”
—Erik Parens, director, The Hastings Center Initiative in Bioethics and the Humanities

“Joel Michael Reynolds is the perfect guide to take us through debates surrounding disability and moral philosophy, debates based on unjust assumptions made millennia ago.”
Combined Academic Publishers

  • Named an “Essential 2022 Read” by Combined Academic Publishers
  • Book special session: Eastern American Philosophical Association, 2024
  • Interviewed by George Yancy, Truthout
  • Interviewed by Sarah Vitale, Radical Philosophy Hour
  • Interviewed by Autumn Wilke, The New Books Network
  • Interviewed by PJ Wehry, Chasing Leviathan
  • Interviewed by Louise Kinross, Bloom
  • Interviewed by Leigh Johnson, Rick Lee, & Charles Peterson, Hotel Bar Sessions
  • Interviewed by Christine Wisehart, Examining Ethics
  • Interviewed by Elizabeth Barnes, The Philosopher

Also, importantly, an endorsement from Schnerp: