Technologies of Life and Death: From Cloning to Capital Punishment

By Kelly Oliver | Go to book overview

Introduction: Moral Machines and Political Animals

.… life is the ferocious force that keeps propelling us,
at the same time, you can just pierce it and it dies.

—KIKI SMITH, 1991

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 about the ownership of one’s own DNA and one’s own body. Who has the right to reproduce certain DNA, particularly if some DNA (disease resistant) is more desirable than other DNA (disease prone)? In laboratories, we can reproduce most things living and dead. Technologies of reproduction of everything from genes and organs to YouTube videos and the complete works of Shakespeare are at the forefront of our contemporary world. Technology is changing what we mean by reproduction itself. Virtually every facet of our lives is mediated by technology, from conception and birth— which can involve drug treatments, high-tech fertility treatments, and

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