Innate maxims, John Locke declared in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding
(1690), cannot exist because children and people with intellectual disability (whom he
called ideots) do not show evidence of knowing such maxims. This thesis argues that,
for very good reason, ideots were Locke's prime evidence against the then current belief
that God implanted, pre-birth, maxims and principles that became the basis of all human
knowledge. Teasing out the differences Locke made between ideots, changelings and
monsters, this thesis also discusses the contribution of people with disability to Locke's
argument that species, such as Man/human, are, like the words that represent them,
Jargely conventional rather than natural, essential or immutable. One hundred and
seventy years after Locke, Charles Darwin published his work on evolution in humans.
He, like Locke , included repeated references to people with intellectual disability in The
Descent of Man (1871) , and its companion piece , The Expression of Emotions (1872).
This thesis argues that the motivation and effect of Darwin's inclusion of people with
intellectual disability were vastly different from Locke's, both in relation to people with
intellectual disability themselves , and , importantly , to the understanding of who should,
and should not, be included in the species, human, particularly over the longer term.
Darwin has been regularly criticised for the use of analogy rather than evidence; in this
thesis I argue that his use of people with intellectual disability was indeed analogy, and
fa llacious analogy at that. Whether or not Darwin himself approved of eugenics , what
he left us with was effectively an ' eugenic man' - a single, male, adult as the measure
of who it is could, and should, survive. This thesis concludes that a recuperation of the
diverse humankind that Locke considered in the Essay is an intellectual, and social,