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The Devout and the Disabled: Religious and Cultural Accommodation‐as‐Human‐Variation

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


This article shows that we can identify a subset of religious and cultural accommodation cases that follow the structure of a particular disability model: the Human Variation Model. According to this model, disadvantageous disability arises because most social arrangements are tailored to the needs of individuals with typical characteristics; people with atypical features are frequently left out from these arrangements. Hence, the latter need personalised resources tailored to them, or their social and/or material environment ought to change according to their atypical characteristics. I argue, however, that not everyone's claim stemming from an atypical characteristic merits accommodation – it would be simply unreasonable to provide personalised resources to everyone or modify the environment to accommodate everyone's needs. In other words, these human variation claimants must be ‘reasonably accommodated’. Nevertheless, members of certain social groups have a justifiable claim to receive such accommodation and those in religious and cultural groups could be among them for two specific sociological reasons.