BioethicsTM: Life, Politics, Economics

Zylinska, Joanna, ed. 2011. BioethicsTM: Life, Politics, Economics. UNSPECIFIED. ISBN 978-1-60785-256-8 [Edited Book]

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Abstract or Description

Online open access book, which is part of the ‘Living Books about Life' series

Bioethics is a serious business, in every sense of the word. A sub-domain of philosophy which deals with issues concerning life and health, it has to arbitrate not only over practical matters regarding patient care and medical experiments, but also over the very ontology of ‘life’: its manufacturing, patenting and redefinition in and by the biotech industry. Since bioethics functions as a node in the complex nexus of social, political and economic forces, it is perhaps not surprising that technocapitalism does not want to leave it just to philosophers. Instead, it mobilises a whole army of experts: morality salespeople, ethics technicians, value mathematicians, to help us decide on the price of life. Consequently, bioethics increasingly abandons its more daring ambitions and responsibilities -- such as exploring the metaphysics of life or the politics of everyday survival -- to serve instead as just a ‘technical discourse about values clarification and choice’ (Haraway, 2007: 109). Its methods of working are thus principally procedural, akin to ‘facts and hypothesis testing’ in science (Haraway, 2007: 109). Feminist thinker Donna Haraway points out that medical ethics ‘is now a literal industry, funded directly by the new developments in technoscience. Ethics experts have become an indispensable part of the apparatus of technoscience-production’ (2007: 109). To put it crudely, bioethics’ role is often to get biotech corporations off the hook -- although, of course, it has the potential to be much more than that. Indeed, in its engagement with life in both a metaphysical and material sense, bioethics is conceivably one of the most exciting areas of philosophical interrogation and artistic experimentation today.

Item Type:

Edited Book

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

26 Oct 2015 11:49

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 15:13


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