Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 45–59 | Cite as

Vulnerability and resilience: a critical nexus

  • Mianna Lotz


Not all forms of human fragility or vulnerability are unavoidable. Sometimes we knowingly and intentionally impose conditions of vulnerability on others; and sometimes we knowingly and intentionally enter into and assume conditions of vulnerability for ourselves (for example, when we decide to trust or forgive, enter into intimate relationships with others, become a parent, become a subject of medical or psychotherapeutic treatment, and the like). In this article, I propose a presently overlooked basis on which one might evaluate whether the imposition or assumption of vulnerability is acceptable, and on which one might ground a significant class of vulnerability-related obligations. Distinct from existing accounts of the importance of promoting autonomy in conditions of vulnerability, this article offers a preliminary exploration of the nature, role, and importance of resilience promotion, its relationship to autonomy promotion, and its prospects for improving human wellbeing in autonomy inhibiting conditions.


Vulnerability Resilience Autonomy Moral obligation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Building W6AMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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