Keywords: Vulnerability; Social Justice; Law; Rights; Recognition.
This article analyzes the question of vulnerability from an ethico-political and legal-philosophical angle. To this end two critical aspects of this question will be highlighted, namely, (a) the structural ambiguity of the status of vulnerability as a construct straddling the prescriptive and the descriptive and (b) the governance of vulnerability in its close connection with issues relating to social justice and the welfare state and with the categories through which those issues are filtered. By analyzing these two aspects, it will be possible to appreciate how we still cling to a distinction between «vulnerable» individuals, on the one hand, and «strong» individuals, on the other. It will be argued that this is normatively as well as legally problematic, and that we consequently have to revisit our models of social justice and certain areas of the law.