Socio-Legal Studies Association

Where law meets social sciences & the humanities

Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative has created an academic space within which scholars can imagine models of state responsibility that focus on the universal and constant vulnerability of human beings and their consequential and inevitable reliance on social relationships and institutions over the life course.

These imperfect institutions and relationships are created and maintained by and through law, and, as such, their operation and effects on society should be views as at least partly the on-going responsibility of those who govern our societies. When they are failing individuals, those institutions and relationships should be assessed, and when necessary, adjusted so as to ensure a just and defensible distribution of social and economic privilege and power. In that assessment, the first consideration should be the nature and abilities of the individual legal subject, a consideration that should shape the subsequent understand of state responsibility. The Initiative offers the “vulnerable legal subject” to displace the liberal legal subject that currently dominates law and policy.

In advancing this mission, the Initiative has developed the idea of vulnerability as the susceptibility to change in social and physical well-being that is located, in the first instance, in the fact that we are all embodied beings.

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