Embodying Vulnerability: A Feminist Theory of the Person
38 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2013 Last revised: 21 Feb 2013
Date Written: January 15, 2013
Recent activism concerning the status of persons and non-persons reveals how the legal boundaries of personhood have served as the background for debates in law and politics. While some work to expand the community of legal persons to include not only unborn human beings like fetuses and zygotes but also even human tissue, others focus their efforts on pushing the boundaries of legal personhood to include great apes or whales and orcas. And finally, some activists are concerned with limiting the community of legal persons to exclude collective legal entities like corporations, limited liability companies, and unions.
In light of the recent legal and political activity concerning the boundaries of personhood, this article argues that feminist legal theory should engage with the question of legal personhood. To this end, it articulates one possible framework for a feminist legal theory of the person. Drawing on the work of scholars in vulnerability studies and embodiment theory, the article proposes an analytic framework that may aid those who make and interpret the law when faced with the twenty-first century challenges of legal personhood.
Keywords: personhood, corporations, animal rights, abortion, feminist theory, vulnerability
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