1st Edition

Law, Vulnerability, and the Responsive State Beyond Equality and Liberty

Edited By Martha Albertson Fineman, Laura Spitz Copyright 2024
    290 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    290 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book considers how vulnerability theory provides the basis for a reconceptualization of the liberal ideas of autonomy, equality, and freedom.

    Vulnerability theory argues a “vulnerable legal subject” should displace the “liberal legal subject” that currently dominates law and policy. The theory is based on the fundamental empirical realities of the material body and offers an alternative to a social contract or rights-based notion of state responsibility, both of which tend to privilege abstractions such as rationality or dignity. A vulnerability analysis poses law and policy questions based on the “vulnerable legal subject” and requires new thinking about state or governmental responsibility. To achieve a truly comprehensive and inclusive notion of what constitutes social justice or a universal or common good, vulnerability theory mandates a reassessment of both equality and freedom as these concepts are currently conceived. Presenting the work of scholars from a wide range of doctrinal areas, it is this task that the book takes up. In particular, in recognizing that many social or institutional relationships entail uneven positions of dependence and reliance, it maintains that individualized notions of equality or freedom are inadequate and must be reformulated to include a sense of collective or social justice, incorporating asymmetric or unequal allocations of responsibility, and requiring appropriate limitations on the individual.

    This book’s reorientation of the subject, as well as the central objectives of law and policy, will appeal to scholars and students in law, vulnerability studies, gender studies, critical legal and political theory, politics, philosophy, and sociology.

    Introduction: Understanding Vulnerability

    Martha Albertson Fineman 

    I. Legal Structures: The Constitution and the Mechanisms of Justice

    1. Restructuring the Constitution for Human Resilience

    Martha T. McCluskey 

    2. Vulnerability Theory and Access to Justice: Elaborating Possibilities for Legal System Design

    Andrew Pilliar

    II. Role of Social Movements in Vulnerability Theory 

    3. Toward a Responsive Landscape: The Role of Social Movements in Vulnerability Theory

    Kathryn Abrams  

    4. Law, Public Policy, and Social Movements to Support and Strengthen Individual and Collective Interests of Labor

    Risa L. Lieberwitz 

    III. Organizing The Economic Infrastructure

    5. The Corporation, Vulnerability, and Resilience

    Lua Kamál Yuille

    6. Market Citizenship, Resilience Drainage, and the Role of Private Law

    Hila Keren and Ronit Donyets-Kedar 

    IV. The Public Nature Of “Private” Property 

    7. Housing Trusts and Resilient Cities: Hierarchy, Resources, and Resilience

    Marc L. Roark 

    8. A Vulnerability Reinterpretation of the Fair Housing Act

    Xiaoqian Hu

    V. The Ultimate “Private” Space – The Construction Of The Family 

    9. The Elder Catch:  Engineering the Future of Caregiving

    Jessica Dixon Weaver

    10. Vulnerability Theory and the Conception of Time

    June Carbone and Naomi Cahn

    VI. Dimensions Of Public And Private In Health Care 

    11. A Vulnerability Approach to the “Right to Health Care”: Addressing Epistemic Vulnerability

    Matthew B. Lawrence 

    12. Disability, Vulnerability, and Public Health Emergencies

    Ani B. Satz 

    VII. Vulnerability and Sovereignty

    13. Using Vulnerability Theory to Reconceive the Relationships Between Native Nations, the United States, and State Governments

    Nazune Menka and Laura Spitz


    Martha Albertson Fineman is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law and the Founding Director of The Vulnerability and Human Condition Initiative at Emory University, Georgia, USA.

    Laura Spitz is Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Professor of Law at Seattle University, Washington, USA.