What can critical theory do for the moral practice of physiotherapy?

Anna Rajala

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Physiotherapy is undeniably a concrete practice. What then do
theoretical considerations on moral matters have to do with it?
Drawing on Max Horkheimer’s distinction between critical and
traditional theory, I suggest that once the meaning of moral theory
is recast as critical theory, in contrast to a mere framework of ethical codes and rules, a deeper significance of theory for 21st-century
physiotherapy practice can be drawn out. Critical theory, a practice
of critique and resistance to improve human existence, has clear
significance for physiotherapy. Drawing on the critical philosophy
of Theodor W. Adorno, this chapter describes some of the aspects of
the kind of critical moral theory that is relevant for physiotherapy
today: it demands consideration of real contexts and people, it seeks
to disrupt the “business as usual” of the field, and aims to remain
open to maintain its relevance and critical purchase. To achieve the objective of critical theory in physiotherapy, it needs to be understood as an ongoing struggle rather than immediate solution. Thus,
rather than merely agreeing on some ethical rules, critical theory
needs to analyse and resist whatever might restrict morality in
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManipulating practices
Subtitle of host publicationA critical physiotherapy reader
Place of PublicationOslo
PublisherCappelen Damm
ISBN (Electronic)9788202550011
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2018


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