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Discussion. Toward an epistemological Luddism of bioethics

Kelly, Susan E. (2006) Discussion. Toward an epistemological Luddism of bioethics Science Studies, 19, (1), pp. 69-82.

Record type: Article


In the decades since its emergence, bioethics has become successfully integrated, institutionally and culturally, into contemporary processes of biotechnological production. Its success is in large part the result of the development within American bioethics of a strong principlist form that has had considerable influence on bioethics developments regarding biotechnology governance internationally. This article presents a critique of bioethics, drawing on insights from early work of Langdon Winner, as ‘human technique’ – organized to adapt human needs and purpose to requirements of biotechnological systems. From Winner it is suggested that present technological systems give rise to an ethics that is appropriate to their ends, and the norms, social relations, and values embedded in those systems are naturalized as central to life. Bioethics has not developed reflexivity concerning its relationship with technology, a reflexivity that is necessary for development of an ethics of technology that has the capacity to critically engage its subject. Winner suggests, somewhat whimsically, a process of “epistemological Luddism,” or the conscious dismantling of the relations of technology, as a mechanism through which human autonomy with regard to technological systems might be recovered. Implications for a reorientation of bioethics following this suggestion are examined.

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Published date: 2006
Keywords: bioethics, biotechnology, langdon winner


Local EPrints ID: 42768
ISSN: 0786-3012
PURE UUID: 04a617d9-290c-4518-88af-786db0883bc3

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Date deposited: 18 Jan 2007
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:21

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