On May 6th, I published a post about the artificial womb and its potential role for promoting gender justice. I keep thinking about this technology, and since there is more and more ethical discussion about it, I want to address it again, this time from the point of view of mediation theory and in an attempt to anticipate the potential mediating role of this technology. According to mediation theory, technology mediates how humans perceive and act in the world. The Dutch philosopher Peter-Paul Verbeek has extended this post-phenomenological approach, which has been developed by Don Ihde, to the realm of ethics. Verbeek sees technology as being intrinsically involved in moral decision-making. Technology mediates our moral perceptions and actions. Moral agency is not something exclusively human, but a “hybrid affair”. Moral actions and decisions “take place in complex and intricate connections between humans and things”. Verbeek illustrates technology’s mediating role by means of the example of obstetric ultrasound. I shall apply the idea of the technological mediation of morality to the artificial womb and discuss some ways in which that technology could play a mediating role in morality.
Category: Gender (Page 2 of 4)
In most rich countries, and increasingly in low and middle income countries, there is a ‘fertility gap’: people say they want to have more children than they end up having. For example, two-thirds of Australian 44 year olds have fewer children than they intended to, working out at one and a half children per parent. While the size of the discrepancy varies from place to place, the pattern is the same in most of Europe and the US:
“The female lead never stands out”, Rosalind Franklin’s character bitterly remarks in Anna Ziegler’s play, Photo 51, right before the curtain drops. With the unlikely topic of the first image of human DNA as its central theme – an image captured by Franklin and illegitimately acquired by Watson and Crick to develop their famous DNA model – the play is a brilliant depiction of the various levels at which sexism in science operates. One such level, of diminishing or erasing women’s contributions, was recently instantiated by a series of newspaper headings referring to Esther Duflo, a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, solely as the wife of another recipient, Abhijit Banerjee, sometimes without even mentioning her name (here and here).
While Justice Everywhere takes a break over the summer, we recall from our archives some memorable posts from our 2018-2019 season.
Here are some good reads on issues relating to the ethics and politics of technology that you may have missed or be interested to re-read:
- Lisa Herzog addressing the question: What Would it Take to Turn Facebook into a Democracy?
- Julia Hermann exploring the concept of Technological Justice and the issue of whether gender justice might be pursued via emerging biotechnological breakthroughs regarding the Artificial Womb.
- Fay Niker interviewing Johannes Himmelreich on the Ethics of Self-Driving Cars and writing on ‘Hackable Humans’ and the Need for Philosophy.
Justice Everywhere will return in full swing on 2nd September with fresh weekly posts by our regular authors. If you have a suggestion for a topic or would like to contribute a guest post on a topical subject in political philosophy (broadly construed), please feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com.
Beauty as a topic has been neglected in political philosophy and justice theorizing, but in this post I will try to convince you that it should be our concern. Beauty is not something trivial, but a major public issue which requires serious attention from all kinds of disciplines and stakeholders.
In 2017, US-scientists succeeded in transferring lamb foetuses to what comes very close to an artificial womb: a “biobag”. All of the lambs emerged from the biobag healthy. The scientists believe that about two years from now it will be possible to transfer preterm human babies to an artificial womb, in which they have greater chances to survive and develop without a handicap than in current neonatal intensive care. At this point in time, developers of the technology, such as Guid Oei, gynaecologist and professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, see the technology as a possible solution to the problem of neonatal mortality and disability due to preterm birth. They do not envisage uses of it that go far beyond that. Philosophers and ethicists, however, have started thinking about the use of artificial womb technology for very different purposes, such as being able to terminate a risky pregnancy without having to kill the foetus, or strengthening the freedom of women. If we consider such further going uses, new ethical issues arise, including whether artificial womb technology could promote gender justice. Should we embrace this technology as a means towards greater equality between men and women?
At least in the developed world, technology pervades all aspects of human life, and its influence is growing constantly. Major technological challenges include automation, digitalisation, 3 D printing, and Artificial Intelligence. Does this pose a need for a concept of “technological justice”? If we think about what “technological justice” could mean, we see that the concept is closely connected to other concepts of justice. Whether we are talking about social justice, environmental justice, global justice, intergenerational justice, or gender justice – at some point we will always refer to technology. It looks as if a concept of technological justice could be useful to draw special attention to technology’s massive impact on human lives, although the respective problems of justice can also be captured by more familiar concepts.
As I am finishing yet another application for a position with limited chances of success (I did my statistics homework), I am reminding myself again that I shouldn’t get too emotionally invested: I shouldn’t picture myself with this specific position in this particular place just yet. I should take a potential ‘No’ lightly as a sportive challenge and not see it as a fundamental rejection of my work and my value as a member of the academic community. I know all of that. But it is emotionally exhausting. It requires energy and time to deal with the anxieties and insecurities this process brings up. And, importantly, it often requires the support and care of people that are close to me.
Women in philosophy have been ignored. Help crowdfund The Philosopher Queens to have their voices heard. Its editors Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting tell us more about how and why this important book project has come about.
When we began looking for a book on women in philosophy we were not prepared for what we found – or rather didn’t find. An afternoon in Waterstone’s, followed by a trip to Kensington library, followed by an evening of angrily searching online for something, anything on women in philosophy, had generated almost nothing. The only book we found was written by an incredible woman in philosophy herself, Mary Warnock, who wrote a book on women in philosophy over 20 years ago.