The Critical Turn in Feminist Bioethics: The Case of Heart Transplantation

Given previously successful interventions that already have shaken up the convention, it is puzzling that the feminist critique of bioethics should be slow to embrace the exciting new developments that have emerged in philosophy and critical cultural studies over the last fifteen years or so. Both in the arenas of poststructuralism and postmodernism and in the powerful revival of phenomenological thought, in which the stress on embodiment is highly appropriate to bioethics, there is much that might augment the adequacy of our approach. Many of these resources have been developed productively by feminist thinkers to reflect not simply the differential lived experience of women, but also to mobilize a specifically feminist slant to theory itself. The encouragement to read Derrida, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, or Deleuze results not in a turn back to the masculinist masters, but to a fuller appreciation of just how distinctive a feminist reworking can be. The most exciting feminist theorists are less concerned with an "authentic" representation of an existing oeuvre than in showing how it can be extended, distorted if necessary, and applied to areas far beyond its origin nally intended scope. In turning to the problem of heart transplantation, I hope to demonstrate such a move at work in a specific material context.
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