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The Politics of Actually Existing UnsustainabilityHuman Flourishing in a Climate-Changed, Carbon Constrained World$
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John Barry

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695393

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695393.001.0001

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(p.33) 2 Vulnerability
The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability

John Barry

Oxford University Press

Vulnerability and associated concepts such as dependence, are relatively little-used terms within mainstream political theory. Self-consciously working within an eco-feminist perspective, this chapter indicates that issues of unsustainability have brought considerations of vulnerability centre stage. Another key concept outlined is ‘sequestration’ (taken from Giddens), denoting the deliberate ‘hiding away’ of ‘existentially troubling’ aspects of modern living, that remind us of our vulnerable and dependent natures. This chapter also discusses the work of MacIntyre on vulnerability, before turning to an analysis of the ‘limiting case’ of the cultural devastation experienced by the Crow nation in the nineteenth century, and what it teaches us about resilience and adaptability. The final section of this chapter offers a discussion of illness, death, and human flourishing. This chapter makes the case for a more explicit acknowledgement and integration of illness, disability, dependence, and death into our conceptualizations about a normal human life, and more than that, a full account of a flourishing human life requires it.

Keywords:   vulnerability, flourishing, dependence, subjectivity, sequestration, Alasdair MacIntyre, Anthony Giddens, Susan Sontag, Thomas Homer-Dixon

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