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Not ‘us’ and ‘them’: towards a normative legal theory of mental health vulnerability

Bielby, P.



In this article, I develop the basis of a normative legal theory of mental health vulnerability. In Section 1, I conceptualise mental health vulnerability by integrating a universal understanding of vulnerability with a subjective-evaluative, psychosocial and dimensional account of mental health. In Section 2, I move on to consider the significance of mental health vulnerability for legal theory through an encounter with perspectives on vulnerability offered by MacIntyre, Fineman, and Del Mar. This offers an insight into the normative foundations of mental health vulnerability. In Section 3, I outline a normative framework for mental health vulnerability that involves a synergy of rights and care. This extends Engster’s idea of “a right to care” to mental health and highlights the role of care and rights in mitigating power imbalances and inequality in relation to mental health. In concluding, I suggest future directions for research on mental health vulnerability.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 19, 2018
Print ISSN 1744-5523
Electronic ISSN 1744-5531
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume International Journal of Law in Context, 2018
Issue Not yet assigned
Article Number N/A
Pages 1-17
Series ISSN ISSN: 1744-5523 (Print), 1744-5531 (Online)
Keywords Mental health, vulnerability, normative legal theory
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2018 University of Hull


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