Enhancing disabilities: transhumanism under the veil of inclusion?

Ivo Van Hilvoorde*, Laurens Landeweerd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Technological developments for disabled athletes may facilitate their competition in standard elite sports. They raise intriguing philosophical questions that challenge dominant notions of body and normality. The case of 'bladerunner' Oscar Pistorius in particular is used to illustrate and defend 'transhumanist' ideologies that promote the use of technology to extend human capabilities. Some argue that new technologies will undermine the sharp contrast between the athlete as a cultural hero and icon and the disabled person that needs extra attention or care; the one exemplary of the peak of normality, human functioning at its best, the other representing a way of coping with the opposite. Do current ways of classification do justice to the performances of disabled athletes? The case of Oscar Pistorius will be used to further illustrate the complexities of these questions, in particular when related to notions of normality and extraordinary performances. Pistorius' desire to become part of 'normal' elite sport may be interpreted as an expression of a right to 'inclusion' or 'integration', but at the same time it reproduces new inequalities and asymmetries between performances of able and dis-abled athletes: we propose that if one accepts that Pistorius should compete in the 'regular' Olympic Games, this would paradoxically underline the differences between able and disabled and it would reproduce the current order and hierarchy between able and disabled bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2222-2227
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Disability sports
  • ethics
  • classification
  • enhancement
  • transhumanism
  • prostheses
  • Oscar Pistorius

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