Date of Award

1-1992

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

Supervisor

Wilfrid J. Waluchow

Language

English

Abstract

The term, Ageism, was coined by Robert Butler, M.D., in 1968 and was defined as discrimination against the elderly. This definition has been widely accepted. I argue in this thesis that this definition is, itself, ageist and furthermore that it is a definition which patronizes the elderly and promotes victim-blaming. In addition to reformulating the concept in a universal way, this thesis distinguishes direct, chronological ageism and indirect functional, aesthetic, and symbolic ageism. These forms of ageism are shown to be morally inappropriate at the level of agent action. Chronological ageism is examined at the level of social policy and it is argued that ageist policies which cause suffering are unjust and immoral. Finally, a recent argument by Norman Daniels for an age criterion in tile allocation of scarce or expensive health-care benefits is analyzed in depth and criticized from several perspectives.

McMaster University Library

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