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Title: A Habermasian perspective on the 'new genetics' : discourse ethics, technicization of the lifeworld and the bioconservative stance in bioethics
Author: Hockings, Edward Liam Henry
ISNI:       0000 0004 9347 997X
Awarding Body: University of the West of Scotland
Current Institution: University of the West of Scotland
Date of Award: 2017
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A particular methodological orientation has dominated bioethics. As such, certain values, concepts and approaches have been prioritised at the expense of other ways of doing bioethics. One such example is The Future of Human Nature (2003), a contribution to bioethical discourse by the world-renowned philosopher, Jürgen Habermas. The treatment it received, I believe, reflects the course bioethics has taken since its inception. The aim of this thesis is to expound a novel interpretation of The Future of Human Nature, and to articulate a comprehensive perspective on the ‘new genetics’ from Habermas’ wider body of work. A Habermasian perspective on the ‘new genetics’ builds upon recent efforts within bioethics, and outside the field, which take a broader view of emerging biotechnologies or issues of global significance. A hallmark of the characteristic thinking of these approaches is a reflexive and critical awareness of the tendencies of mainstream bioethics, and the social, economic and the political environment in which new biotechnologies are emerging, and policy and regulatory decisions are being taken. Whilst the primary aim of this thesis is to set forth a reformulation of The Future of Human Nature (2003) and develop a perspective on the ‘new genetics’ from Habermas’ wider body of thought, it also undertakes a reconstruction of bioconservatism – the school of thought to which The Future of Human Nature belongs. Regarding the debate on genetic enhancement and the ‘new genetics’ more generally, Kass (1985; 1997; 2002; 2003a; 2003b), Sandel (2007), Fukuyama (2002; 2004) and Habermas (2003) have been subject to criticisms which some feel strike a decisive blow to the bioconservative standpoint (Roache and Clark, 2009). A novel interpretation of their thought is advanced which marks a departure from a rigid opposition to genetic technologies, a reliance on intuition, the appeal to quasi-theological concepts, and a preoccupation with preserving what is natural. The motivation, however, for such a reformulation is not because these characteristic aspects of bioconservatism have been heavily criticised by bioliberals and posthumanists. Rather, a reading of Kass, Sandel, Fukuyama and Habermas which emphasises certain generally neglected – and entirely omitted from critical engagement – dimensions of their thought, furnishes a basis for a more pragmatic, robust, and, potentially, enduring counter-position to bioliberalism and posthumanism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available