• care;
  • paid care;
  • vulnerability;
  • dependence;
  • care work


People who are paid to provide basic care for others are frequently undervalued, exploited and expected to reach often unrealistic standards of care. I argue that appropriate social recognition, support and fair pay for people who provide care for those who are disabled, frail and aged, or suffering ill health that impedes their capacity to negotiate daily activities without support, depends on a reconsideration of the paradigm of the citizen or and moral agent. I argue that by drawing on the ideas of human vulnerability and dependency as central to our personhood, a more realistic conception of selves, citizens and persons can be developed that better recognises the inevitability of human dependency and the social value of care work. I also indicate the significance of this vulnerability-focussed view for ethical evaluation of the emotional aspects of care relationships.