Taking vulnerability seriously
what does it change for bioethics and politics?
To take into account our vulnerability requires paradoxically our reconfiguring the autonomy of vulnerable and dependent persons such as patients suffering from cognitive and physical impairments. However, vulnerability is not only focused on fragility, it also highlights our responsibility toward the other. Moreover, to assess the primacy of responsibility over liberty means that we depart from any atomistic conception of the self and provide another understanding of subjectivity and sociality. This way of enriching the philosophy of the subject also makes sense when we think of our relations toward animals and our use of nature. It implies that we have to replace the conception of human being that still grounds the philosophy of human rights with another philosophy of the subject. Another way of framing the political question and another contractarianism are at stake in such an inquiry into the critical and political dimension of the notion of vulnerability. We will distinguish this approach which pertains both to ontology and political theory from the standpoint of the ethics of care.
Pelluchon, C. (2016)., Taking vulnerability seriously: what does it change for bioethics and politics?, in A. Masferrer & E. García-Sánchez (eds.), Human dignity of the vulnerable in the age of rights, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 293-312.
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