'For when equality is given to unequals, the result is inequality': the socio-legal ethics of vulnerable people

Isabelle Bartkowiak, Anna Corbo Crehan

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

Abstract

Despite efforts at achieving equity, western societies remain fundamentally unequal, with the difference between 'haves' and 'have-nots' persisting, and in many cases growing, from the perspectives of economy, education, access to services, etc. These inequalities have led the criminal justice system to create categories of 'vulnerable people', with the intention of addressing the defencelessness of some individuals within the judicial process and, accordingly, catering for their needs. This has led to the mandatory provision of defence and support mechanisms to aid all members of these populations through the justice process.This paper, while acknowledging the absolute necessity to cater for the needs of the most disadvantaged, considers from a theoretical standpoint the ethical matters triggered by the blanket provision of defence and support mechanisms for people who legally belong to a 'vulnerable' category, but who arguably are not as disadvantaged as others might be ' and, indeed, may well be considered not disadvantaged at all. For these people, being at one extreme of the vulnerability scale, such hermetic precautionary measures actually create gaps, overlaps and redundancies. We will highlight these issues, drawing on Aristotle and Plato's discourse about equity to demonstrate that some safekeeping protocols actually do nothing but reproduce a system of inequality for the ones (paradoxically) forgotten by the legislators: the non-disadvantaged. This consequently creates an interesting vicious cycle, not often talked about by either socio-legal scholars or by the professions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 16th AAPAE Conference
Subtitle of host publicationProfessions in the community
EditorsAnna Corbo Crehan
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherAJPAE
ISBN (Print)9781864672169
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventAustralian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics (AAPAE) Conference - Goulburn
Duration: 09 Jun 200911 Jun 2009

Conference

ConferenceAustralian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics (AAPAE) Conference
Period09/06/0911/06/09

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