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Redesigning Life

Eugenics, Biopolitics, and the Challenge of the Techno-Human Condition


Nathan Van Camp

The emerging development of genetic enhancement technologies has recently become the focus of a public and philosophical debate between proponents and opponents of a liberal eugenics – that is, the use of these technologies without any overall direction or governmental control. Inspired by Foucault’s, Agamben’s and Esposito’s writings about biopower and biopolitics, the author sees both positions as equally problematic, as both presuppose the existence of a stable, autonomous subject capable of making decisions concerning the future of human nature, while in the age of genetic technology the nature of this subjectivity shall be less an origin than an effect of such decisions. Bringing together a biopolitical critique of the way this controversial issue has been dealt with in liberal moral and political philosophy with a philosophical analysis of the nature of and the relation between life, politics, and technology, the author sets out to outline the contours of a more responsible engagement with genetic technologies based on the idea that technology is an intrinsic condition of humanity.
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Some of the work presented in this book has already appeared in academic journals. For material that is presented in Chapters 1, 3, 4, and 5, the author acknowledges its original publication in a slightly different form in Humana Mente: Journal of Philosophical Studies, Journal of Philosophy of Life, Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, Between the Species, and Journal for Cultural Research. The author sincerely thanks the editors of these journals for their permission to publish this work.

I am grateful to Gabriel Fragnière and Hendrik Opdebeeck, the series editors for Philosophy & Politics at Peter Lang, for publishing this book. My thanks go out, as well, to the managing director at PIE Peter Lang, Emilie Menz, for her patience, thoroughness, and belief in the project.

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