Alternative Approaches to Ethics

On the blog Somatosphere, there has been a recent series on anthropological approaches to ethics and morality. The key intervention of social science approaches to morality (which one also finds in areas such as feminist bioethics) is a focus on how contexts contour the many situations of ethics. From considering how contexts give rise to ethical meaning to questions of how relations and environments contour one’s moral options, a view of “the social provides” needed depth to how we analyze ethics and also the social situations that render a social issue into a necessarily “ethical” one.

I also wanted to point readers of Bill of Health to Somatosphere because it offers a real resource to readers interested in health policy, biotechnology, bioethics and social studies of health, medicine, and illness. Somatosphere is especially focused on topics that lay at the intersection of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and social studies of medicine.

Given the inherently interdisciplinary nature of bioethics and its wide expanse of interests across overlapping themes, it is important to also survey scholarship in other fields that are relevant.

The series I’ve highlighted below is part of a series on anthropological approaches to ethics and morality. In particular, the series offers a Reader’s Guide on the topic for those hoping to find out more about both anthropological and ethnographically-inflected approaches towards (and theorizations of) ethics and morality.

Part of a multi-series “Reader’s Guide,” readers can find a list of seminal texts here.

Mark Dennis Robinson

Mark Robinson earned his Masters in Bioethics at Harvard Medical School in 2019, with a project that explored the intersection of technology and ethics. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he also holds a PhD from Princeton University, where he held the Presidential Fellowship. In Summer 2019, Mark will join Georgia Institute of Technology as a visiting scholar. Mark is also the author of a forthcoming book, "The Market in Mind: How Financialization Is Shaping Neuroscience, Translational Medicine, and Innovation in Biotechnology," about the ethical and scientific impacts of the increasing financialization of neuroscience (and of translational science and medicine in general) that will be published by MIT Press in 2019. Mark's fellowship project, "Ethics for a Frail Subject: Systems, Technology, and a Theory of Global Moral Impairment," considered how bioethics might be designed around an understanding of human beings as "impaired subjects" that accounts for biological impediments to human morality.

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