DOI link for Introduction
Vulnerability has been positioned as the opposite, or ‘other’, of the ideal of individual autonomy. Hence, the autonomous agent is often characterised as someone who can sustain themselves and pursue their interests without having to depend on other people, unless via contractual relations based on mutual advantage. Closely related to autonomy in the liberal pantheon is respect for human dignity. As with autonomy, this concept has been defined in opposition to vulnerability. On the margins of the law are those whose vulnerability is overemphasised as a mark of difference. Due to this vulnerability, these subjects are typically exposed to a special protective regime that is designed to remedy an undesirable affliction and establish the security that they are denied so long as their vulnerability remains. One of the ways in which law has been developed in response to the stigma associated with vulnerability has been to redraw the boundaries between the mainstream and margins.