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The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition

TL;DR: Vulnerability is and should be understood to be universal and constant, inherent in the human condition as mentioned in this paper, and the concept of vulnerability can be used to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society.
Abstract: This essay develops the concept of vulnerability in order to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society. Vulnerability is and should be understood to be universal and constant, inherent in the human condition. The vulnerability approach is an alternative to traditional equal protection analysis; it represents a post-identity inquiry in that it is not focused only on discrimination against defined groups, but concerned with privilege and favor conferred on limited segments of the population by the state and broader society through their institutions. As such, vulnerability analysis concentrates on the institutions and structures our society has and will establish to manage our common vulnerabilities. This approach has the potential to move us beyond the stifling confines of current discrimination-based models toward a more substantive vision of equality.
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the concept of misfit and the situation of misfitting was proposed to further understand the lived identity and experience of disability as it is situated in place and time.
Abstract: This article offers the critical concept misfit in an effort to further think through the lived identity and experience of disability as it is situated in place and time. The idea of a misfit and the situation of misfitting that I offer here elaborate a materialist feminist understanding of disability by extending a consideration of how the particularities of embodiment interact with the environment in its broadest sense, to include both its spatial and temporal aspects. The interrelated dynamics of fitting and misfitting constitute a particular aspect of world-making involved in material-discursive becoming. The essay makes three arguments: the concept of misfit emphasizes the particularity of varying lived embodiments and avoids a theoretical generic disabled body; the concept of misfit clarifies the current feminist critical conversation about universal vulnerability and dependence; the concept of misfitting as a shifting spatial and perpetually temporal relationship confers agency and value on disabled subjects.

399 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors explore the implications of new public sector "reforms" for the culture of higher education and argue that a culture of carelessness, grounded in Cartesian rationalism, has been exac...
Abstract: This article explores the implications of new public sector ‘reforms’ for the culture of higher education. It argues that a culture of carelessness, grounded in Cartesian rationalism, has been exac...

251 citations


Cites background from "The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring E..."

  • ...Yet there is limited intellectual space in the academy to analyse how inevitable human interdependencies shape social actions beyond issues of status, power and materiality (Fineman, 2008)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the relationship between ignorance and vulnerability is explored by drawing on recent work on the epistemology of ignorance, and the claim that ignorance of vulnerability is produced through the pursuit of an ideal of invulnerability that involves both ethical and epistemological closure.
Abstract: This paper aims to understand the relationship between ignorance and vulnerability by drawing on recent work on the epistemology of ignorance. After elaborating how we might understand the importance of human vulnerability, I develop the claim that ignorance of vulnerability is produced through the pursuit of an ideal of invulnerability that involves both ethical and epistemological closure. The ignorance of vulnerability that is a prerequisite for such invulnerability is, I contend, a pervasive form of ignorance that underlies and grounds other oppressive forms of ignorance. Thus, undoing such forms of ignorance requires working toward a particular form of vulnerability: epistemic vulnerability.

216 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The concept of vulnerability is under-theorized in the bio-ethics literature as discussed by the authors, which is why bioethics needs an adequately theorized and nuanced conception of vulnerability.
Abstract: Concern for human vulnerability seems to be at the heart of bioethical inquiry, but the concept of vulnerability is under-theorized in the bioethical literature. The aim of this article is to show why bioethics needs an adequately theorized and nuanced conception of vulnerability. We first review approaches to vulnerability in research ethics and public health ethics, and show that the bioethical literature associates vulnerability with risk of harm and exploitation, and limited capacity for autonomy. We identify some of the challenges emerging from this literature: in particular, how to reconcile universal human vulnerability with a context-sensitive analysis of specific kinds and sources of vulnerability; and how to reconcile obligations to protect vulnerable persons with obligations to respect autonomy. We then briefly survey some of the theoretical resources available within the philosophical literature to address these challenges, and to assist in understanding the conceptual connections between vuln...

203 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A eudaimonic need-centred understanding of human well-being is advocated and several methodological approaches for analysing the relationship between, and decoupling of, energy services and human needs are showcased.

145 citations