Inequality, Vulnerability, and Morality

Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago (1996)

Barbara Solheim
William Rainey Harper College
Throughout our lives we participate in relationships in which inequality of power is unavoidable. We are infants and parents, students and teachers, employees and employers, to name a few. Contemporary moral theory has had little to say about the moral significance of these relations, yet any adequate moral theory must offer us guidance in our dealings with those who are vulnerable to us. ;The relations on which I focus are structurally unequal--they have a power differential as an inherent structural feature. I analyze these relations in terms of vulnerability, and then demonstrate vulnerability's moral significance. Among structurally unequal relations, the most extreme power differential is between parents and their children. I examine this relationship and develop an account of its morally significant features. I consider whether duty-based moral theory has adequate resources to guide parents. Due to children's vulnerability, I argue that parents' developing certain character traits is fundamentally important. I then conclude that a virtue theoretic approach offers better resources, both for the parent-child relation and, ultimately, for the many other kinds of structurally unequal relations
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,262
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Reluctant Mercenary: Vulnerability and the 'Whores of War'.Ben Fraser - 2013 - Journal of Military Ethics 12 (3):235-251.
Introduction.Wendy Rogers - 2012 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 5 (2):1-10.
‘Vulnerability’: Handle with Care.Kate Brown - 2011 - Ethics and Social Welfare 5 (3):313-321.
The Right to Parent One's Biological Baby.Anca Gheaus - 2012 - Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (4):432-455.
Four Theories of Filial Duty.Simon Keller - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (223):254 - 274.
Vulnerability as a Regulatory Category in Human Subject Research.Carl H. Coleman - 2009 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 37 (1):12-18.
Parental Responsibility and the Morality of Selective Abortion.Simo Vehmas - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (4):463-484.


Added to PP index

Total views

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

My notes