Maria Giulia Bernardini

The Vulnerable Subject. Status and Prospects of a (Legally) Controversial Category

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Vulnerability is a key concept in contemporary legal and political debate. Despite the increasing confidence in its transformative potential, however, its legal use is still apt to produce "labelling effect" on those who belong to some groups singled out for special legal protection in view of their perceived "weakness". Indeed, once individuals are deemed vulnerable, they can no longer be paradigmatically recognized as subjects of law in the standard sense (as autonomous and rational agents). After addressing the current legal use of the concept of vulnerability, I will analyse the potential legal implementation of the "vulnerability paradigm" and of the "vulnerable subject", as well as some criticisms of such implementation, with a focus on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).


  • Vulnerability
  • Legal Capacity
  • Equality
  • Subject of Law


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