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Is There Life in Cybernetics?: Designing a Posthumanist Bioethics

By Joanna Zylinska


The aim of this chapter is to engage with the inherent humanism of bioethics and consider the possibility of thinking bioethics otherwise - beyond the belief in the intrinsic dignity and superior value of the human, and beyond the rules and procedures rooted in this belief. It is also to challenge what we may call the ‘cognitivist pretence’ of humanism, i.e. the conviction that the human can be distinguished from other forms of life by the inherent ‘truth’ and teleology of his being which is to be revealed to him, and which he can uniquely grasp (see Glendinning, 2007, p. 104). The human as both a discrete subject and an object of bioethics becomes thus a critical point of interrogation in this study. What I want to outline in response is a non-systemic bioethics of relations which does not abdicate its ethical responsibility or its political commitment, although it questions many of the premises of established moral and political theories. Indeed, I want to ‘put to the test the pretentious belief that only a liberal and humanistic view of the subject can guarantee basic elements of human decency: moral and political agency and ethical probity’ (Braidotti, 2006, p. 11). But my project is more genealogical than futurologist. By revisiting the story of bioethics’ emergence as a separate discipline, I want to consider the following question: what if the cyborg rather than the human had been adopted as its foundation? Or, to put it another way, what would a bioethics for humans, animals and machines look like

Topics: P300, V500
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Year: 2009
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