Vulnerability and resistance have often been seen as opposites, with the assumption that vulnerability requires protection and the strengthening of paternalistic power at the expense of collective resistance. Focusing on political movements and cultural practices in different global locations, including Turkey, Palestine, France, and the former Yugoslavia, the contributors to Vulnerability in Resistance articulate an understanding of the role of vulnerability in practices of resistance. They consider how vulnerability is constructed, invoked, and mobilized within neoliberal (...) discourse, the politics of war, resistance to authoritarian and securitarian power, in LGBTQI struggles, and in the resistance to occupation and colonial violence. The essays offer a feminist account of political agency by exploring occupy movements and street politics, informal groups at checkpoints and barricades, practices of self-defense, hunger strikes, transgressive enactments of solidarity and mourning, infrastructural mobilizations, and aesthetic and erotic interventions into public space that mobilize memory and expose forms of power. Pointing to possible strategies for a feminist politics of transversal engagements and suggesting a politics of bodily resistance that does not disavow forms of vulnerability, the contributors develop a new conception of embodiment and sociality within fields of contemporary power. -/- Contributors. Meltem Ahiska, Athena Athanasiou, Sarah Bracke, Judith Butler, Elsa Dorlin, Basak Ertür, Zeynep Gambetti, Rema Hammami, Marianne Hirsch, Elena Loizidou, Leticia Sabsay, Nükhet Sirman, Elena Tzelepis. (shrink)
In this chapter, I examine the concept of vulnerability as a complex constitutive feature of human agency and argue that it is both a constraint on and a resource for practical reasoning. When discussed as an ontological feature of human agency, vulnerability is primarily understood as an aspect of embodiment, which is problematic in different respects. First, in relation to the situatedness of human agency, vulnerability indicates that human agents are subjected to contextual contingencies. Second, in relation (...) to temporality, vulnerability indicates that agents act in time and under the pressure of time. They are finite and produce finite and perishable actions, even though the longlasting effects of an action may survive the action itself. Third, in relation to corporal feature of agency, vulnerability is associated to suffering and frailty, insofar as bodily needs and desires represent both springs of and hindrances to rational action. Finally, in relation to the social nature of human animals, vulnerability indicates the susceptibility to be harmed, obstructed, undercut or manipulated by other agents These varieties of vulnerability are constituive features of human agency, which cannot be removed without removing what is peculiar and specific to human agency. Theories of practical reason are primarily concerned with constitutive vulnerability as a defect, and presume to offer normative guidance by adopting an idealized account of rational agency, which corrects or merely cancels the defective features of human agency. By contrast, theories of bounded rationality understand practical reasoning instrumentally, and thus are concerned with cognitive limitations of practical rationality, in particular with partial and perspectival information. However, the notion of “partial information” is inadequate to capture the complexities and significance of vulnerability, even in its restricted cognitive sense, which has to do with the agent’s situatedness. On the view I propose, instead, vulnerability is declined as a constitutive constraint on practical reasoning. Susceptibility to time constraints makes sense of the agents’ engagement in action and of their distinctive deliberative perspective. Susceptibility to bodily needs and desires tracks the normative relation between motivations and reasons for action, as well as the corporal roots of the agents’ efficacy in a perceived context. Susceptibility to others makes possible to broaden the scope and the modes of individual agency, by way of inter-action and shared agency. Rather than the source of problems and issues for rational agency, I take vulnerability to name the cluster of constitutive constraints that shape practical reasoning. According to the distinctive variety of Kantian constructivism I defend, practical reason is incomplete, rather than imperfect or defective. The completion of practical reason does not aim to correct or dissolve vulnerability, but deploys vulnerability as a resource to build up autonomy. This view accounts for autonomy as a normative relation among vulnerable agents, which develops in time. (shrink)
One of liberalism’s core commitments is to safeguarding individuals’ autonomy. And a central aspect of liberal social justice is the commitment to protecting the vulnerable. Taken together, and combined with an understanding of autonomy as an acquired set of capacities to lead one’s own life, these commitments suggest that liberal societies should be especially concerned to address vulnerabilities of individuals regarding the development and maintenance of their autonomy. In this chapter, we develop an account of what it would mean for (...) a society to take seriously the obligation to reduce individuals’ autonomy-related vulnerabilities to an acceptable minimum. In particular, we argue that standard liberal accounts underestimate the scope of this obligation because they fail to appreciate various threats to autonomy. (shrink)
Philosophical theorizing about global justice has evolved into a flourishing, sophisticated, and respectable field. This was not the case about two decades ago and O’Neill’s pioneering work on these topics has been highly influential in these welcome developments. In this paper I aim to review the important role agency, need, and vulnerability play in O’Neill’s normative theorizing, as well as the importance she places on being able to allocate responsibilities, in evaluating how porous borders should be to persons who (...) want to cross them permanently. Some of the most important questions needing resolution in political philosophy today include how to distribute responsibilities for moving towards global justice. Just how difficult this is will soon become obvious. I discuss a case study which helpfully illustrates some of the complexity. It also provides an interesting challenge for O’Neill’s work. As I show, focusing on vulnerabilities gives us a richer understanding of the nature of our ethical and political obligations in a world characterized by multiple injustices. But it also adds more challenges in our quest to assign responsibility fairly. (shrink)
(Conference proceedings 2014) This presentation (International Development Ethics Association, July 2014) considers economic vulnerability, exploring the risk of deprivation of necessary resources due to a complex and rarely discussed vulnerability that arises from hope. Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological account of French petit-bourgeois aspiration in The Social Structures of the Economy has recently inspired Wendy Olsen to introduce the term “aspiration paradox” to characterize cases wherein “a borrower's status aspirations may contribute to a situation in which their borrowings exceed their (...) capacity to repay,” leaving the individual much the worse, due to an aspiration to betterment. If such financial opportunities were not made available to these people – if some were denied loans due to a careful assessment of their vulnerability – would they be better off? We should seriously consider that they might be. I will hazard the straightforwardly paternalistic suggestion that limiting access to lending to those who are vulnerable to their aspirations can be a just policy. Because aspiration paradox is a cross-cultural phenomenon, and because lending frequently involves asymmetries in mathematical education between borrowers and lenders, I hope to elude at least some of the charges of colonialism that have gained a stronger purchase on adaptive preference arguments. (shrink)
L'éthique du care - apporter une réponse concrète aux besoins des autres - a introduit de nouveaux enjeux dans le politique et placé la vulnérabilité au coeur de la morale. Elle engage aussi de profondes modifications dans les domaines aujourd'hui cruciaux de l'éthique animale et de la philosophie environnementale. Ces changements sont au coeur de Tous vulnérables?
While many books on ethics contain a chapter discussing prisoners’ rights and the ethical dimensions of research involving incarcerated persons, Vulnerability and Incarceration is the first monograph devoted to the subject. Victor interrogates the concept of vulnerability to examine prisoners’ right to medical research from a novel point of view.
‘Religion and corporeality’. At first sight, the coordinating conjunction «and» sounds rather odd here because in the vision of many people spirituality and materiality necessarily exclude each other. Still, many scholars have offered abundant evidence that Christianity is a religion of embodiment. Yet, as will become clear from the works of the theologians Erik Peterson and André Guindon, the turn toward the body within Christianity is primarily a turn toward a clothed body. This may explain why the Italian philosopher Giorgio (...) Agamben has argued that our culture, which is heavily influenced by Christian theology, is characterized by the impossibility of nakedness. In his view, we should try to think a possible nakedness of man by liberating it, piece by piece, from the theological fabric which is wrapped around it. The question that I want to raise here is whether such a naked nudity is really a human option. Drawing on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and introducing the notion of corporeal vulnerability, I will argue that it is not. (shrink)
The High Court continues to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to make declarations about interventions into the lives of situationally vulnerable adults with mental capacity. In light of protective responses of health care providers and the courts to decision-making situations involving capacitous vulnerable adults, this paper has two aims. The first is diagnostic. The second is normative. The first aim is to identify the harms to a capacitous vulnerable adult’s autonomy that arise on the basis of the characterisation of situational (...) class='Hi'>vulnerability and autonomy as fundamentally opposed concepts or the failure to adequately acknowledge the conceptual relationship between them at common law. The second part of this aim is to draw upon developments in analytic feminist philosophy to illustrate how standard approaches to autonomy are ill-equipped to capture the autonomy issues of capacitous vulnerable adults when their decisions regarding care and treatment are at stake. The second (normative) aim is to develop an account of self-authorised, intersubjective autonomy on the basis of analytic feminist insights into the relational practices of recognition. This account not only attempts to capture the autonomy of capacitous vulnerable adults and account for the necessary harms to their autonomy that arise from standard common law responses to their situational vulnerability, it is also predicated on the distinctions between mental capacity, the satisfaction of conditions for informed consent and the exercise of autonomy, meaning that it is better placed to fulfil the primary aim of the inherent jurisdiction – to facilitate the autonomy of vulnerable adults with capacity. (shrink)
According to Hans Jonas (1903–1993), the modern technological progress endowed humanity with wondrous power, which in the long run risks altering the nature of human action. This is especially true for the realm of collective action, the effects of which evidence an unpredicted issue: the ecological crisis, which is the “critical vulnerability” of nature to technological intervention. This discovery brings to light that the whole biosphere of the planet has been added to that which human beings must be responsible (...) for because of their power over it. There is, however, a further dimension of vulnerability (and responsibility) to be considered, namely the one which characterizes organic life as such. Indeed, the essence of all living organisms–human beings included–is characterized by vulnerability, given their precarious and unstable condition of “needful freedom” towards the environment. Nevertheless, terrestrial life fl ourished through a multifaceted and unplanned (thus, again, vulnerable) evolution of living forms, ranging from bacteria to human beings – these evidencing a unique degree of freedom, which Jonas refers to as a “metaphysical gap” towards other living beings. The problem is that the present-day technology provides the possibility to manipulate the very essence of life and human nature. Is this process to be accepted and accomplished? And what about the related risks? Indeed, according to Jonas, issues such as genetic manipulation, euthanasia, organ transplantation, assisted reproduction, exploitation of other living beings etc., raise ethical dilemmas which can be addressed thanks to the idea of vulnerability. (shrink)
Pluralism and diversity are largely bound to a humancentric conception of difference, one which fails to consider the plurality of ontologies that constitute reality. The result has been the confinement of the subject of justice to social spaces, and hence the reinforcement of the dichotomous understanding of humanity and nature. This is in part because pluralist theories are largely concerned with one single manifestation of vulnerability: the vulnerability of minority groups. This essay begins by offering a distinctive definition (...) of vulnerability, one that is broad enough to incorporate both universal and dispositional accounts, while being narrow enough to rule out both vitalist and biocentric approaches. I use the notion to examine debates on political pluralism, and I argue that, as they currently stand, pluralist approaches are ill suited for understanding the struggles of Indigenous peoples against colonialism. I defend the view that the normative case for pluralism needs to be grounded in an ecologically aware ethics that can respond to the vulnerability of animate beings who sustain life. (shrink)
In _Vulnerability and Critical Theory_, Estelle Ferrarese identifies contemporary developments on the theme of vulnerability within critical theory while also seeking to reconstruct an idea of vulnerability that enables an articulation of the political and demonstrates how it is socially produced.
In _Essential Vulnerabilities, _Deborah Achtenberg contests Emmanuel Levinas’s idea that Plato is a philosopher of freedom for whom thought is a return to the self. Instead, Plato, like Levinas, is a philosopher of the other. Nonetheless, Achtenberg argues, Plato and Levinas are different. Though they share the view that human beings are essentially vulnerable and essentially in relation to others, they conceive human vulnerability and responsiveness differently. For Plato, when we see beautiful others, we are overwhelmed by the beauty (...) of what is, by the vision of eternal form. For Levinas, we are disrupted by the newness, foreignness, or singularity of the other. The other, for him, is new or foreign, not eternal. The other is unknowable singularity. By showing these similarities and differences, Achtenberg resituates Plato in relation to Levinas and opens up two contrasting ways that self is essentially in relation to others. (shrink)
Should incarcerated persons be able to participate in medical research? While this is a much-debated question, Elizabeth Victor offers a fresh perspective on current regulatory approaches to research with prisoners. She delivers exactly what her book title promises: a reevaluation of protective frameworks based on her adaptation of the concept of vulnerability.Victor employs a definition of vulnerability that is “dynamic, capturing the particularities of an individual’s situation within a community of practices, norms, and a specific history”. However, she (...) also emphasizes that “by reinforcing vulnerability in populations, these practices create, sustain, or reinforce asymmetric power relations”, which... (shrink)
This book is about the necessity, and even value, of vulnerability in human experience. In it, Michael Ing brings early Chinese texts into dialogue with questions about the ways in which meaningful things are vulnerable to powers beyond our control; and more specifically, how relationships with meaningful others might compel tragic actions.
This paper uses an environmental justice framework to examine government response to weather-related disasters dating back some eight decades. It places the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in socio-historical context of past emergencies with an emphasis on race and class dynamics and social vulnerability. Key questions explored include: What went wrong? Can it happen again? Is government equipped to plan for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from natural and manmade disasters? Can the public trust government response to be fair? (...) Why are so many African Americans Alocked [email protected] of New Orleans= post-Katrina rebuilding, reconstruction, and recovery? (shrink)
This volume breaks new ground by investigating the ethics of vulnerability. Drawing on various ethical traditions, the contributors explore the nature of vulnerability, the responsibilities owed to the vulnerable, and by whom.
Vulnerability is an important concern of moral philosophy, political philosophy and many discussions in applied ethics. Yet the concept itself—what it is and why it is morally salient—is under-theorized. _Vulnerability, Autonomy, and Applied Ethics _brings together theorists working on conceptualizing vulnerability as an action-guiding principle in these discussions, as well as bioethicists, medical ethicists and public policy theorists working on instances of vulnerability in specific contexts. This volume offers new and innovative work by Joel Anderson, Carla Bagnoli, (...) Samia Hurst, Catriona Mackenzie and Christine Straehle, who together provide a discussion of the concept of vulnerability from the perspective of individual autonomy. The exchanges among authors will help show the heuristic value of vulnerability that is being developed in the context of liberal political theory and moral philosophy. The book also illustrates how applying the concept of vulnerability to some of the most pressing moral questions in applied ethics can assist us in making moral judgments. This highly innovative and interdisciplinary approach will help those grappling with questions of vulnerability in medical ethics—both theorists and practitioners—by providing principles along which to decide hard cases. (shrink)
Outsourcing clinical trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies from industrialized countries to low- -income countries – summarized as transnational biomedical research – has lead to many concerns about ethical standards. Whether study participants are particularly vulnerable is one of those concerns. However, the concept of vulnerability is still vague and varies in its definition. Despite the fact that important international ethical guidelines such as the Declaration of Helsinki by the World Medical Association or the Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving (...) Human Subjects by the Council of International Organizations of Medical Sciences refer to vulnerability as ethical principle, each of their approaches are different. To overcome these shortcomings, we analyze and unite different approaches of vulnerability and develop practical criteria in order to operationalize the concept especially for the context of TBR. These criteria refer to the context of a study as well as the characteristics and the current living situation of study participants. Based on a case study of an HIV-vaccine-trial conducted in India we demonstrate how those criteria can be applied in a retrospective way to identify potential ethical conflicts. The criteria can also indicate a prospective function for ethical pre-assessment. For this, we provide an outlook for three major topics: 1. Vulnerability as a normative concept: Different ways of protection; 2. The relevance of transparency and 3. Vulnerability as an instrument to increase decision participation of human subjects. (shrink)
This essay seeks to understand the domain and demands of reparative justice in terms of moral vulnerability. Significant harms raise the question of whether victims stand in truly reciprocal practices of accountability; if they do, they enjoy the power of calling others to account as well as bearing the liability of being accountable to others. In the aftermath of harms, victims’ moral vulnerability is tested: they may be exposed to the insult and injury of discovering that they do (...) not enjoy the moral standing of holding others accountable. While the occasion of reparative justice is significant wrongs and wrongful harms and losses, this essay argues that the aim of reparative practices is not only or even primarily to redress those harms and losses, but to address the moral vulnerability of victims by affirming their status in accountability relations. (shrink)
Epigenetics – the study of mechanisms that influence and modify gene expression – is providing unique insights into how an individual’s social and physical environment impact the body at a molecular level, particularly in populations that experience stigmatization and trauma. Researchers are employing epigenetic studies to illuminate how epigenetic modifications lead to imbalances in health outcomes for vulnerable populations. However, the investigation of factors that render a population epigenetically vulnerable present particular ethical and methodological challenges. Here we are concerned with (...) demonstrating how, in targeting certain populations for epigenetic research, this research may be pathologizing socio-cultural and medical practices in those populations in a way that increases their vulnerability. Using a case study approach, this article examines three vulnerable populations currently of interest to epigenetic researchers – Indigenous, autistic, and transgender populations – in order to highlight some of the challenges of conducting non-stigmatizing research in epigenetics. (shrink)
Scientific and technological progress might change people’s capabilities or incentives in ways that would destabilize civilization. For example, advances in DIY biohacking tools might make it easy for anybody with basic training in biology to kill millions; novel military technologies could trigger arms races in which whoever strikes first has a decisive advantage; or some economically advantageous process may be invented that produces disastrous negative global externalities that are hard to regulate. This paper introduces the concept of a vulnerable world: (...) roughly, one in which there is some level of technological development at which civilization almost certainly gets devastated by default, i.e. unless it has exited the “semi-anarchic default condition”. Several counterfactual historical and speculative future vulnerabilities are analyzed and arranged into a typology. A general ability to stabilize a vulnerable world would require greatly amplified capacities for preventive policing and global governance. The vulnerable world hypothesis thus offers a new perspective from which to evaluate the risk-benefit balance of developments towards ubiquitous surveillance or a unipolar world order. (shrink)
In every corner of the globe, natural hazards are ubiquitous and varied from every perspective. Atmospheric and weather conditions, geological movements and other recurrent disturbances would occur with or without the existence of humans on the planet. It is when these natural events cause catastrophic consequences for human populations that they become what we call [email protected] The extent to which people are at risk under disaster conditions, irrespective of etiology, is dependent upon many factors, not the least of which is (...) Aill [email protected]; simply being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. But sometimes people elect to live in communities where disaster risks are well known; and sometimes options are limited because of livelihood demands. But in almost all cases, biological and social factors can greatly increase vulnerability to the consequences of disaster. People with chronic illness or disability and people with limited economic or social resources are representative of populations who face exacerbated risk under a wide range of disaster scenarios. (shrink)
Resumen El artículo sugiere algunos aspectos de un análisis fenomenológico de la vulnerabilidad con énfasis en la condición del cuerpo vulnerable. El análisis sigue un enfoque fenomenológico trascendental de orientación genética por el cual se describe y explicita el campo de implicación intencional de horizonte involucrado en la unidad vivencial del cuerpo vivido. Inmediatamente después se procede a la descripción de los horizontes prácticos del cuerpo y su relación con la génesis de la conciencia de la propia vulnerabilidad. En este (...) contexto, se destacan algunos motivos relevantes de la conciencia que anticipa el daño, propia de la conciencia de ser vulnerable, para el acceso y constitución del ámbito de los valores. Por último, a partir del marco descriptivo presentado se propone una reflexión sobre la significación moral de la vulnerabilidad.The article suggests some aspects of a phenomenological analysis of vulnerability with regard to the condition of bodily vulnerability. In order to describe and make explicit the field of intentional implication of horizons involved in the lived-experiences unity of lived body, the analysis follows a transcendental phenomenological approach with genetic orientation. Afterwards it performs a description of practical horizons of the body and its relation to the genesis of the consciousness of one’s own vulnerability. In this context, the paper points out some relevant reasons of aware anticipation of harm that belongs to the consciousness of being vulnerable with regard to the constitution of the field of values. At the end, the article suggests a reflection on the moral significance of vulnerability. (shrink)
Background: In China, the conventional family-based ageing care model is under pressure from social transitions, raising the question of whether and to what extent families are still capable of dealing with the care of the aged. Objective: This article examines the vulnerability and inadequacy of families to bear responsibility for the care of the aged against a backdrop of socioeconomic transformation and diminishing institutional support in rural China. Research design: This article adopts an empirical ethical approach that integrates empirical (...) investigation with ethical inquiry. Participants and research context: The empirical component of this article focuses on the lived experiences of caring for a wife and mother with dementia in one rural Chinese family, collected from a 6-month fieldwork study conducted at one primary hospital. Ethical considerations: Approval was obtained from the university ethics committee. Findings: The empirical study highlights a conflicted family process of managing and negotiating care that indicates the inadequacies and limited ability of families to deal with aged care tasks. In addition, inadequate structures and institutional deficiencies exacerbate the vulnerability of rural families and their inability to offer adequate care. Conclusion: Acknowledging the vulnerability of families as ageing care providers, this article calls for a socially supported family care model for rural older people in China and also proposes policy recommendations. (shrink)
The concept of vulnerability is deployed in bioethics to, amongst other things, identify and remedy harms to participants in research, yet although nonhuman animals in experimentation seem intuitively to be vulnerable, this concept and its attendant protections are rarely applied to research animals. I want to argue, however, that this concept is applicable to nonhuman animals and that a new taxonomy of vulnerability developed in the context of human bioethics can be applied to research animals. This taxonomy does (...) useful explanatory work, helping to pinpoint the limitations of the 3Rs/welfare approach currently adopted in the context of animal experimentation. On this account, the 3Rs/welfare approach fails to deliver for nonhuman animals in experimentation because it effectively addresses only one element of their vulnerability (inherent) and paradoxically through the institution of Animal Ethics Committees intended to protect experimental animals in fact generates new vulnerabilities that exacerbate their already precarious situation. (shrink)
A veces suceden cosas altamente traumáticas que cambian drásticamente nuestra vida, intuitivamente pensamos que ante tales circunstancias nos encontramos indefensos y que nuestra vida debe cambiar para peor, pero no necesariamente es así. Desde el siglo XIX en que surge el interés por el concepto de trauma, se entiende éste como una experiencia psicológicamente extrema, desbordante y desestabilizadora para cualquier persona. Las reacciones serían crisis de ansiedad, sintomatología depresiva e incluso cuadros de estrés postraumático.
:In response to Roemer's reformulation of the Marxian concept of exploitation in terms of comparative wealth distributions, Vrousalis treats economic exploitation as an explicitly relational phenomenon in which one party takes advantage of the other's economic vulnerability in order to extract a net benefit. This paper offers a critical assessment of Vrousalis's account, prompting a revised formulation that is analysed in the context of a matching and bargaining model. This analysis yields precise representations of Vrousalis's conditions of economic (...) class='Hi'>vulnerability and economic exploitation and facilitates comparison to the alternative conceptions of Marx and Roemer. (shrink)