Biotechnology and Ethics in China

This is a link to the paper I presented for the Sussex University Undergraduate Philosophy Society. It’s a bit rough around the edges and as it’s now officially public so I may update it at some point. I no longer hold to this theoretical position: I disagree with the idea of Foucault’s ‘docile bodies’. However, it’s full of a lot of other mightily interesting things and takes, head-on, ideas concerning eugenics and population control that point the finger not just at China but at the international environment within which  it operates. If you have any suggestions please leave a comment.

Here’s the abstract:

China has promoted population policies, such as the ‘one child policy’ and ‘eugenics law’ which have enframed the human subject within a powerful system of medical and scientific institutions. These have promoted an objective conception of the human subject and rejected what is perceived to be ‘imperfect’. This coincides with the need to reduce population numbers in the overpopulated and under resourced China. The combination of over population with international dreams of modernity, progress and racial strength propelled China into an era where the bodies of its peoples are disciplined into objective conceptions of life. The national conception of birth control was solidified by law, which has effectively propelled coercive population control methods across the country. The result is an imbalance of female and male births due to female infanticide and patriarchal social structures. The powerful communist government continually strengthens itself through its successful grasp of international trade and economic power, replicating its dominance over the population through scientific technological determinism. China, however, does not operate in a vacuum but is a member of the international system of states and as such, it is important to examine ‘macro-political’ international theoretical paradigms, such as political realism, and how they are juxtaposed with ‘micro-political’ inter-subjective conceptions of the human subject. The turmoil of China’s population problems reveals how biopower operates globally and how eugenics practices now form part of larger bioethical debates. I hope this presentation can stimulate much needed thinking in this area


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