Technologies of Life and Death
From Cloning to Capital Punishment
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Introduction: Moral Machines and Political Animals
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With advances in technoscience, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish nature from culture, the grown from the made. Geneticists can enhance the DNA of almost any living creature, including human beings. Cloning is a reality, no longer just the stuff of science fiction. New genetic engineering and organ transplantation technologies raise legal questions ...
Part One Sex Machines
One Genetic Engineering: Deconstructing Grown versus Made
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The young runner Caster Semenya was propelled into the international media spotlight when she won the women’s world championship 800-meter race in Berlin in 2009. Her instant stardom was not the result of her being the fastest runner in the world, but rather because her competitors “accused” her of being a man and not a woman. The eighteen-year-old reportedly ...
Two Artificial Insemination: Deconstructing Choice versus Chance
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In an age when a child could have as few as one or as many as three genetic parents, maternity and paternity have become tricky business. For example, only one “parent” is necessary for cloning, while current experiments make it possible to combine nuclear DNA from one woman, mitochondrial DNA from another woman, and DNA from a man’s sperm, which makes ...
Part Two Medusa Machines
Three Girl Powered: Poetic Majesty against Sovereign Majesty
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Recently we’ve seen a growing fascination with girls and wolves, whether it is the virgin high-schooler Bella Swan from Twilight, whose best friend turns out to be a werewolf, or sixteen-year-old virgin Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, who hunts and kills wild dogs and other wild animals to feed her family and to have meat to trade for supplies, and is ...
Four Rearview Mirror: Art, Violence, and Sublimation
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If we interpret deconstruction as a form of translation as transference, we have moved into the territory of psychoanalysis. Indeed, if poetic majesty acts to unseat sovereign majesty through the cut that carries with it rebirth, as in the story of Little Red Riding Hood, then psychoanalysis may be the discourse best equipped for articulating the dynamics of this wound ...
Part Three Death Machines
Five Elephant Autopsy: Optic Machinery and the Scale of Sovereignty
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Derrida asks us to read (hear) his seminar The Beast and the Sovereign as a fable, similar to the fables of La Fontaine that punctuates the text. Just as La Fontaine’s fables often employ two (or more) characters—animals— to teach us lessons about political power, the seminar is the story of two characters—two animals—the beast and the sovereign, engaged in a life-and- death...
Six Deadly Devices: Animals, Capital Punishment, and the Scope of Sovereignty
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Can animals be sentenced to death? Can they be assassinated, or become victims of genocide? Certainly in our common parlance, these dubious rights are reserved for man; murder, assassination, genocide, and the death penalty are proper to man alone. Even in death, we insist upon separating...
Seven Death Penalties: Ethics, Politics, and the Unconscious of Sovereignty
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Insofar as Western philosophy, like Christianity, begins with a scene of capital punishment—that of Socrates being sentenced and put to death— doesn’t it also have its beginnings in the death penalty? Derrida answers that philosophers from Kant to Levinas justify the death penalty and “just” wars on the basis of lex talionis, which takes us back not only to its ...
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013