Vol. 43 No. 1 (2023): Vulnerability. Environments and Relations

Practices of Vulnerability: Openness, Production, and Transformation

Silvia Pierosara
University of Macerata

Published 2023-06-01


  • constitutive vulnerability,
  • openness,
  • contingent vulnerability,
  • common good,
  • autonomy

How to Cite

Practices of Vulnerability: Openness, Production, and Transformation. (2023). Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 43(1), 163-183. https://doi.org/10.4454/teoria.v43i1.178


In the contemporary ethical landscape, vulnerability has become an object of study, analysis, and discussion. The hypothesis guiding this contribution is that the forms and experiences of vulnerability are irreducibly plural, and a distinction must be made in cases where vulnerability is used from a merely descriptive perspective, and those where it performs a normative function. It is in this second case that the ethical depth of vulnerability can be recognised. Vulnerability can either be a source for emancipatory action or can be used as an excuse for oppressive and dominating measures. A relational mode of refiguring ethical autonomy is crucial in discerning the roles of vulnerability, both as a criterion and as the content of vulnerability-related experiences. To substantiate this hypothesis, the contribution is divided into three sections. The first section makes an attempt to re-evaluate vulnerability not so much as a purely defective figure, but rather as a condition of possibility of openness to the world and to relationships. The second section articulates the distinction and the relationship between constitutive and contingent vulnerability. The third section focuses on the distinction between oppressive and emancipatory uses of contingent vulnerabilities through the lens of autonomy.