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Abstract

Traditional considerations of justice for those who require caregiving have centered on what is due to the dependent person. However, considerations of justice also bear strongly on what is due to the caregiver. I focus on unpaid dependency work, too long treated as a private matter rather than a public concern. More is owed to those who render care: the division of labor is unjust, the nature of dependency work creates vulnerabilities for caregivers, and unpaid caregivers are disadvantaged in the world of paid work. Obligations to mitigate these facts are ultimately based on the truth that all members of society at some point in their lives benefit from caregiving and that noncaregivers benefit unfairly from the heavy distribution of dependency work to a small number of certain kinds of individuals. It is necessary to ask which agents of justice are responsible for remedying this state of affairs, and how. I propose a distributed scheme of obligation in which members of society and the state, as arbiter of social responsibility, share responsibility for the remedy. It is incumbent upon us as a society to refrain from making vulnerable the most essential among us, to reap benefits without sowing unjust burdens.


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