Bioethics Blogs

In The Journals – July Pt. II by Christine Sargent

Hello everyone! Please check out our roundup for the second half of the month. Also, the current issue of Hau has a symposium on Webb Keane’s Ethical Life: Its Natural and Social Histories (2016) that may be of interest, with contributions by Cheryl Mattingly, Rita Astuti, James Laidlaw, Nicholas Harkness, C. Jason Throop, Richard Schweder, and Webb Keane himself.

Science, Technology, and Human Values

Living with Spinal Cord Stimulation: Doing Embodiment and Incorporation

Lucie Dallbert

Seen as contributing to human enhancement, implanted technologies have recently been receiving a lot of attention. However, reflections on these technologies have taken the shape of rather speculative ethical judgments on “hyped” technological devices. On the other hand, while science and technology studies and philosophy of technology have a long tradition of analyzing how technological artifacts and tools transform and (re-)configure our lives, they tend to focus on use configurations rather than the intimate relations brought about by implanted technologies. Even the cyborg has lost some of its hermeneutic power as it has been detached from its material grounds, becoming a discursive entity. In this article, I reclaim the importance of materiality and explore how people live (and learn to live) with spinal cord stimulation (SCS), which is a type of neuromodulation technology. Implanted in bodies and seemingly out of sight, this technology does not cease to matter. Embodiment and incorporation are crucial for people to live well with SCS. Embodying the neuromodulation technology entails groping processes in which gestures are central and an increased intimacy with one’s bodily materiality. Incorporating it is highly relational and entangled with the bodies of loved and distant ones, humans and nonhumans.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.