SF State News {University Communications}

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Anita Silvers honored for lifetime achievement

March 5, 2010 -- Anita Silvers, professor and chair of the Philosophy Department and a nationally recognized advocate for disability rights, was awarded the 2010 Quinn Prize from the American Philosophical Association (APA).

A photo of Professor Anita Silvers.

Silvers is the first scholar from a non-doctoral-awarding university to receive the prize, which honors renowned American philosopher Philip L. Quinn. Conferred by the APA board of officers, the honor includes a symposium dedicated to Silvers’ scholarship in social philosophy at the April 2010 APA Pacific Division meeting and a $2,500 prize, which Silvers plans to donate to the University.

“Many things contributed to the selection of Anita,” said APA Executive Director David E. Schrader. “In addition to her decades of service to the APA she is viewed as a national leader in promoting high-quality philosophical education in non-doctoral institutions. She was a pioneer in advocating and developing critical thinking as a basic subject for undergraduates nationwide and she was at the forefront of welcoming women, underrepresented minorities and people with disabilities into the field of philosophy.”

Disabled by polio as a child, Silvers is a leading advocate for equality for persons with disabilities. Her papers and books have contributed to the legal interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990. Her groundbreaking and acclaimed monograph, “Disability. Difference. Discrimination: Formal Justice” (1998) is widely cited in legal affairs. “Americans with Disabilities” (2000), which she co-edited with Leslie Pickering Francis, anthologizes essays by other leading philosophers, as well as legal theorists, bioethicists and policymakers on the moral foundations of disability law and policy.

On the faculty at SF State since 1967, Silvers worked to make access and disability services available on California college campuses. In 1980, she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the National Council for the Humanities, the governing board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Silvers is regarded as an authority on medical ethics and bioethics, social philosophy and feminism. She is currently completing a book about a social contract theory for “outliers,” establishing inclusiveness as the primary value for justice.

“I am deeply grateful for this recognition,” Silvers said. “I feel fortunate to have been able to develop some new philosophical ideas about equality that also have been useful guides in public policy.”

-- Denize Springer


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