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Tactical BiopoliticsArt, Activism, and Technoscience$
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Beatriz da Costa and Kavita Philip

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262042499

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262042499.001.0001

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From Bioethics to Human Practices, or Assembling Contemporary Equipment

From Bioethics to Human Practices, or Assembling Contemporary Equipment

(p.389) 22 From Bioethics to Human Practices, or Assembling Contemporary Equipment
Tactical Biopolitics

Paul Rabinow

Gaymon Bennett

The MIT Press

This chapter rejects all attempts to purify overlapping notions of science, ethics, and human dignity, and argues that definitions of scientific truth and notions of the human have always constructed each other. Even well-meaning attempts at addressing “bioethics” forget this, positioning ethics as exterior to science, constituting it via rules and people-independent moral systems. Well-meaning attempts at protecting people, nature, and the future from admittedly horrific histories (eugenics, capitalist exploitation, colonialism) tend to seek refuge in a metaphysical humanism that neglects to ask: What is the good life today? What is the nature of scientific truth today? What is the human today? Since none of the hypostatized, “eternal” answers are satisfactory, attention must shift to emerging technical meaning construction and new biosocial practices. To answer these questions in the broadest interdisciplinary sense, we need to rethink the meanings of collaboration, equipment, and human-nature ethics without reducing them to instrumental relationships or metaphysical essences.

Keywords:   science, ethics, human dignity, scientific truth, bioethics

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