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Naked GenesReinventing the Human in the Molecular Age$
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Helga Nowotny and Giuseppe Testa

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014939

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014939.001.0001

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Shaping the Future: Human Technologies of Standardization

Shaping the Future: Human Technologies of Standardization

(p.67) 5 Shaping the Future: Human Technologies of Standardization
Naked Genes

Helga Nowotny

Giuseppe Testa

The MIT Press

This chapter explores three human technologies for the stabilization and integration into society of the various entities that the molecular gaze brings to the fore. In many respects, they function like material technologies: once they have been established, they replace the need to find consensus over and over again. They do so by creating standards that serve as reference points and thus enable closure for seemingly incommensurable tasks. The oldest human technology is the law, which is constantly confronted with great challenges through the introduction of new technologies. More recently, under the influence of globalization, another human technology, governance, has spread. Under an eminently flexible, iterative and purportedly inclusive regime, it enables a wide array of power relationships among an increasing plurality of social actors. Finally, bioethics—itself a relatively young but increasingly central instrument of governance—translates the widest possible spectrum of often mutually exclusive interests of a growing number of actors into political options and manages the resulting interdependencies. In so doing, bioethics has established itself as a third, indispensable human technology, becoming highly professionalized and constituting a universally valid currency in a global moral economy. Liberal democratic societies apply these human technologies with varying success when they seek to shape their contested biotechnological future in a pluralistic way.

Keywords:   stabilization of social order, human technologies, law, governance, bioethics

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