This article reconstructs and defends Theodor Adorno’s social theory by motivating the central role of abstract domination within it. Whereas critics such as Axel Honneth have charged Adorno with adhering to a reductive model of personal domination, I argue that the latter rather understands domination as a structural and de-individualized feature of capitalist society. If Adorno’s social theory is to be explanatory, however, it must account for the source of the abstractions that dominate modern individuals and, in particular, that of (...) value. While such an account remains undeveloped in Adorno, Marx provides resources for its development, in positing the constitution of value neither in production nor exchange alone, but in the social totality. This article argues that Marx’s account is compatible with Adorno’s, and that it may be used to render Adorno’s theory of domination more credible on explanatory grounds. (shrink)
Theodor Adorno’s 1960–1961 lecture course Ontology and Dialectics, recently translated into English, provides the most systematic articulation of his critique of Martin Heidegger. When Adorno delivered three of the lectures at the Collège de France, Maurice Merleau-Ponty was reportedly scandalised as he was at that time developing his own ontology, informed by Heidegger. However, this article problematises the assumption that Adorno’s negative dialectic and Merleau-Ponty’s late ontology are incompatible. First, Adorno’s criticism of Heidegger’s ontology is delineated, with particular focus on (...) how Adorno argues that Heidegger’s subordination of the human being to being is homologous with the logic of capitalism. Then, we turn to Merleau-Ponty’s own engagement with Heidegger, with particular focus on how Merleau-Ponty cannot be accused of denigrating ontic beings. Finally, it is argued that Merleau-Ponty’s indirect ontology has the same implications as those which allow Adorno to position his dialectical method as politically opposed to Heidegger’s ontology. (shrink)
This article revisits the Frankfurt School’s reflections on race, anti-Semitism and fascism, focusing especially on the theory of race implicit in Dialectic of Enlightenment. It argues that this theory has the potential to be developed into a critical functionalist theory of race that avoids both class and race reductionism, offering a thoroughly intersectional competitor to currently dominant philosophies of race. The key to such a theory is the view that racialization plays a functional role in sustaining capitalist exploitation. While Horkheimer (...) and Adorno focus on the scapegoat function of racialization, I argue that this function, while important, does not exhaust the possible functionalities of racialization and neglects an especially crucial function: the maintenance of a specifically racial form of exploitation. (shrink)
The philosophical model of constellation has been applied to contemporary musical form, but it reveals too many limitations when confronted with late Adorno’s model of informal music. Once the component of heteronomy, in hierarchical and centered structures of traditional music, has been overcome, it reemerges in the opposite type, the decentered, non-hierarchical or free structures, between the opposites of serialism and aleatoric music. Therefore, the model of informal music, as an "image of freedom", pursues the realization of a musical-aesthetic nominalism (...) that is subtracted from all forms of heteronomy, ancient or modern. To do this, it has to achieve the 'actually constructed totality' of the work, integrating in it the opposite of free subjectivity. (shrink)
Advancement in assisted reproductive technologies now gives society access to procreation that was never thought to be possible. These technologies can be employed to bring joy to couples in childless marriages but these raise several medical, legal as well as ethical questions that need much discussion and appraisal.Before the advent of these technologies, the traditional Akan society, for instance, had ways of dealing with childless marriages. These included traditional adoption and a ‘levirate’ practice. At the heart of the attempt to (...) resolving the issue of infertility in marriages was the understanding that any discussions of the sexual, reproductive and relational ethics of African marriage must take the entire family or community into account.Today, these reproductive technologies have made procreation impersonal and the sad part of it is that money has taken the centre stage in resolving the issue of childlessness in marriages. For the indigenous Akan, procreation was not perceived as impersonal but rather personal and involving. Obviously, these modern reproductive technologies throw a challenge to African ethical values and practices. Therefore, in this chapter, a critical analysis is made to find out the extent to which these technologies have played out in the indigenous Akan milieu. (shrink)
This collection features original essays that examine Walter Benjamin¿s and Theodor Adorno¿s essays and correspondence on literature. Taken together, the essays present the view that these two monumental figures of 20th-century philosophy were not simply philosophers who wrote about literature, but that they developed their philosophies in and through their encounters with literature. Benjamin, Adorno, and the Experience of Literature is divided into three thematic sections. The first section contains essays that directly demonstrate the ways in which literature enriched the (...) thinking of Benjamin and Adorno. It explores themes that are recognized to be central to their thinking¿mimesis, the critique of historical progress, and the loss and recovery of experience¿through their readings of literary authors such as Baudelaire, Beckett, and Proust. The second section continues the trajectory of the first by bringing together four essays on Benjamin¿s and Adorno¿s reading of Kafka, whose work helped them develop a distinctive critique of and response to capitalism. The third and final section focuses more intently on the question of what it means to gain authentically critical insight into a literary work. The essays examine Benjamin¿s response to specific figures, including Georg B¿chner, Robert Walser, and Julien Green, whose work he sees as neglected, undigested, or misunderstood. This book offers a unique examination of two pivotal 20th-century philosophers through the lens of their shared experiences with literature. It will appeal to a wide range of scholars across philosophy, literature, and German studies. (shrink)
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory particular established at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt, Germany in 1923. Tarr's investigation focuses on three key issues. The first is the Frankfurt School's original program of providing a general theory of modern capitalist society. The second is the claim to represent a continuation of the original Marxian theory through the school's Critical Theory. The third is the scientific validity of Critical Theory in (...) light of the generally accepted canons of the natural and social sciences. Tarr proposes that in the last analysis, Critical Theory is simply another existentialist philosophy. As such, it is a specific expression of certain socio-historical conditions and of the situation of a particular social group, the marginal Jewish bourgeois intelligentsia of Central Europe. This European-Jewish contribution became apparent after the great metaphysical impulse of the pre-Socratic and Platonic-Aristotelian philosophies had run their respective courses. Both philosophies represented philosophical schools of ethics, and both wanted to help man take up a defense against the storms of passions and fate. It was from these ancient sources that the Frankfurt School emerged. The Frankfurt School derived its impetus in the twentieth century, in which Tarr claims a shift occurred from the ontological to the subjective realm. This in turn led to deep changes in philosophical theory and practice which led to a more psychologically oriented mode of social thought. This in-depth study covers the entire career of the Frankfurt School's Critical Theory from 1923 to 1974. It does so by applying the same standards of criticism to its primary doctrines as it turned on other theories, but with a keen sense of balance and fairness. (shrink)
Browne 1 (this issue ) argues that what may appear to be a benevolent practice-disclosing the sex of a fetus to expecting parents who wish to know-is in fact an epistemically problematic and, as a result, ethically questionable medical practice. Browne worries that not only will the disclosure of fetal sex encourage sex-selective abortions (an issue we will not take up here), but also that it will convey a misleading and pernicious message about the relationship between sex and gender. More (...) specifically, she contends that the practice of disclosure is problematic because (1) it purports to establish the gender of the developing baby based on information about the baby's sex, whereas this is not a warranted inference because while sex is determined by biological factors, gender is determined by social factors and (2) it conflates (biological) sex with (social) gender or encourages such conflation or reduction and thereby promotes 'essentialistic' thinking about gender that is closely linked to sexism and social injustice. If (1) is true, then disclosing fetal sex amounts to misinforming or misleading prospective parents-and since misinforming patients is wrong, the act of disclosing is also wrong. However, beyond the wrongs of misinforming patients, the practice also perpetuates the harms associated with a rigidly gendered society through endorsing the message in (2), thus lending the authority of the medical profession to the gender-essentialist ideas that have underpinned, and continue to drive, sexism and social injustice. This analysis leads Browne to recommend that clinicians be prohibited from informing parents about the sex of their developing fetus. -/- We agree with Browne that gender essentialism-the notion that 'femaleness' and 'maleness' carve out distinct natural classes with innate, immutable properties-is not only a false metaphysical thesis, but also a pernicious idea insofar as the sexist attitudes it fosters motivate policies that systematically violate the human rights of women, as well as those of the LGBTQ community. However, we do not think that the disclosure of fetal sex misinforms prospective parents about the gender of their baby, nor do we believe that such disclosure presupposes or promotes gender essentialism properly understood. (shrink)
Disability activists influenced by queer theory and advocates of “human enhancement” have each disputed the idea that what is “normal” is normatively significant, which currently plays a key role in the regulation of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Previously, I have argued that the only way to avoid the implication that parents have strong reasons to select children of one sex (most plausibly, female) over the other is to affirm the moral significance of sexually dimorphic human biological norms. After outlining the (...) logic that generates this conclusion, I investigate the extent to which it might also facilitate an alternative, progressive, opening up of the notion of the normal and of the criteria against which we should evaluate the relative merits of different forms of embodiment. This paper therefore investigates the implications of ideas derived from queer theory for the future of PGD and of PGD for the future of queerness. (shrink)
The spaces provided by biotechnologies of sex selection are rich with epistemological, ontological, and ethical considerations that speak to broadly held social values and epistemic frameworks. In much of the discourse about sex selection that is not medically indicated, the figure of the “naturally” conceived child is treated as a problem for parents who want to select the sex of their child. As unknown, that child is ambiguous in terms of sex—“it” is both and neither, and might be the “wrong” (...) sex. Drawing on Beauvoirean thinking about ambiguity and desire, I cast part of the desire to select the sex of a child as bound to an ethic and epistemology of disambiguation, and urge that the space of being-unknown is one to which each person is entitled. (shrink)
We report here on recent developments in Israel on the issue of sex selection for nonmedical reasons by preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Sex selection for medical reasons is generally viewed as uncontroversial and legal in European and American law. Its use for nonmedical reasons is generally illegal in European countries. In the United States, it is not illegal, although in the opinion of the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, it is problematic. This position is undergoing reconsideration, albeit (...) in a limited way. (shrink)
A woman's right to know the contents of her own body, and to make a choice about whether to continue her pregnancy or not, should be defended against laws trying to stop prenatal sex selection, either in the developing world or in the developed world. Restrictions on women's reproductive freedom harm the interests of women and girls, and ignore myriad social policy solutions, such as education and income incentives to have girls and universal old age pensions, that provide better answers (...) to the strains of unbalanced sex ratios. The opponents of sex selection trumpet all accounts of increased discrimination against women resulting from unequal sex ratios while ignoring growing evidence of positive cultural change and women's empowerment fromwomen's enhanced marriage prospects. Opponents of sex selection reify a conservative heteronormative model of sexuality, gender roles and family structure, while arguing that unmarried men are social time bombs who can only be controlled by a wife. Eventually the social policy dilemma around sex selection will presumably be made moot since would-be parents will be able to use pre-conceptive technology to determine a conceptus's gender without abortion or in-vitro fertilization. But until the sex selection argument unravels before technological innovation, women's rights to control their bodies must be defended against laws banning - or requiring - prenatal ultrasound and abortion. (shrink)
On 9 May 2005, the Israeli Ministry of Health issued guidelines spelling out the conditions under which sex selection by preimplantation genetic diagnosis for social purposes is to be permitted in Israel. This article first reviews the available medical methods for sex selection, the preference for children of a specific gender in various societies and the ethical controversies surrounding PGD for medical and social purposes in different countries. It focuses then on the question of whether procreative liberty or parental responsibility (...) should be the centre of attention in this context. Finally, the article critically examines the new Israeli guidelines and their implications for the women undergoing the necessary medical treatments, for the children born as a result, for other members of the family and for society in general. (shrink)
Presenting an analysis of key texts by Sigmund Freud, Max Weber, Theodor Adorno and Norbert Elias, this work shows that they crossed the psycho-social divide in ways that can help contemporary scholars to re-establish an analytical and theoretical understanding of the inherent interconnection of these two domains.
In 2003, the United Kingdom's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority published a report entitled Sex Selection: Options for Regulation. The report outlined the findings of a 2-year review of available sex selection techniques and recommended that the United Kingdom ought not to permit any regulated technique to be used other than for medical reasons. In so doing, it reflected the widespread opinion—repeatedly expressed in the public consultations that formed the cornerstone of the HFEA's review—that there is something ethically unacceptable, or (...) at least ethically suspect, about sex selection for nonmedical, or “social,” reasons. (shrink)
In my paper “Parental Love and the Ethics of Sex Selection,” published in the previous issue of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, I set out to determine whether a plausible argument could be constructed in support of a common intuition about the ethics of sex selection. The intuition in question is that sex selection for nonmedical reasons is incompatible with a proper parental love: that is, with the sort of love that a parent ought to have for her child (...) or, equivalently, with the sort of love that someone accurately describable as a good parent will have for her child. I concluded that there is a prima facie compelling argument that fits the bill, though I did little more than introduce and set that argument out. In the current paper, my aim will be to subject it to closer scrutiny, by considering a number of possible objections to it. I will start by asking why the argument should be thought to apply only to sex selection for nonmedical reasons and not to cases in which selection is employed in order to prevent the birth of children with serious sex-linked genetic conditions. (shrink)
To what extent should parents be able to choose the kind of child they have? The unfortunate phrase 'designer baby' has become familiar in debates surrounding reproduction. As a reference to current possibilities the term is misleading, but the phrase may indicate a societal concern of some kind about control and choice in the course of reproduction. Typically, people can choose whether to have a child. They may also have an interest in choosing, to some extent, the conditions under which (...) they do so, such as whether they have a child with a serious disability or disease. The purpose of this book is to explore the difficult and controversial question of the appropriate ethical and legal extent of reproductive autonomy in this context. The book examines ethical, legal and public policy issues in prenatal screening, prenatal diagnosis (PND), selective abortion and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). It explores the ethics of these selection practices and the ability of current ethical guidelines and legal mechanisms, including the law on selective abortion and wrongful birth, to deal with advances in genetic and other knowledge in these areas. Unlike in the United States, in England the relevant law is not inherently rights-based, but the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 inevitably raises questions about the proper scope of reproductive autonomy in this context. The implications of the analysis are considered for the development of relevant law, public policy and ethical guidelines and will be of interest to academics in medical law and ethics, health professionals, lawyers, those working on public policy and students with an interest in these issues. (shrink)
Sex selection technologies have become increasingly prevalent and accessible. We can find them advertised widely across the Internet and discussed in the popular media—an entry for “sex selection services” on Google generated 859,000 sites in April 2004. The available services fall into three main types: preconception sperm sorting followed either by intrauterine insemination of selected sperm or by in vitro fertilization ; preimplantation genetic diagnosis, by which embryos created by IVF are tested and only those of the desired sex are (...) transferred to the woman's uterus; and prenatal testing of fetuses through ultrasound or chromosomal analysis, followed by selective abortion of fetuses detected to be of the undesired sex. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Sex selection in India and China is fostered by a limiting social structure that disallows women from performing the roles that men perform, and relegates women to a lower status level. Individual parents and individual families benefit concretely from having a son born into the family, while society, and girls and women as a group, are harmed by the widespread practice of sex selection. Sex selection reinforces oppression of women and girls. Sex selection is best addressed by ameliorating the (...) situations of women and girls, increasing their autonomy, and elevating their status in society. One might argue that restricting or prohibiting abortion, prohibiting sex selection, and prohibiting sex determination would eliminate sex selective abortion. But this decreases women's autonomy rather than increases it. Such practices will turn underground. Sex selective infanticide, and slower death by long term neglect, could increase. If abortion is restricted, the burden is placed on women seeking abortions to show that they have a legally acceptable or legitimate reason for a desired abortion, and this seriously limits women's autonomy. Instead of restricting abortion, banning sex selection, and sex determination, it is better to address the practice of sex selection by elevating the status of women and empowering women so that giving birth to a girl is a real and positive option, instead of a detriment to the parents and family as it is currently. But, if a ban on sex selective abortion or a ban on sex determination is indeed instituted, then wider social change promoting women's status in society should be instituted simultaneously. (shrink)
From 2002 to 2003, the United Kingdom's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority carried out a review of the available methods of sex selection, the central aims of which were, in the words of the subsequent report.
There is a popular and widely accepted version of the precautionary principle which may be expressed thus: “If you are in a hole—stop digging!”. Tom Baldwin, as Deputy Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority , may be excused for rushing to the defence of the indefensible,1 the HFEA’s sex selection report,2 but not surely for recklessly abandoning so prudent a principle. Baldwin has many complaints about my misrepresenting the HFEA and about my supposed elitist contempt for public opinion; (...) readers of this exchange will decide for themselves.REDRAFTING THE REPORTBaldwin begins with a piece of wishful thinking:"Harris objects that in this recommendation “an absurdly high standard of caution is employed”, since a theoretical risk is associated with almost all medical procedures. This objection is misplaced: as paragraph 142 of the report indicates, the phrase “theoretical risk” is to be understood here in the light of the earlier discussion of the risks arising from the fact that flow cytometry exposes sperm to laser energy, a procedure which is known to be liable to damage DNA."Paragraph 142 does not make that clear. It does indeed refer back to a set of earlier paragraphs but these give, if anything, an upbeat assessment of the safety of flow cytometry. Paragraph 121 states: “However whilst potentially less intrusive, and with potentially lower risk to the health of patients, flow cytometry …” .2 But even if the overall burden of the report does indicate unresolved fears, the standard is still absurdly high. However, so far from endorsing the report’s judgement that flow cytometry has “potentially lower risk to the health of patients”, Baldwin now regards the risk of flow cytometry as “serious”1:"Since the application of flow cytometry to humans is a new procedure, the risk of … ". (shrink)
This paper argues that the HFEA’s recent report on sex selection abdicates its responsibility to give its own authentic advice on the matters within its remit, that it accepts arguments and conclusions that are implausible on the face of it and where they depend on empirical claims, produces no empirical evidence whatsoever, but relies on reckless speculation as to what the “facts” are likely to be. Finally, having committed itself to what I call the “democratic presumption”, that human freedom will (...) not be constrained unless very good and powerful reasons can be produced to justify such infringement of liberty, the HFEA simply reformulates the democratic presumption as saying the opposite—namely that freedom may only be exercised if powerful justifications are produced for any exercise of liberty. (shrink)
It is quite likely that parents will soon be able to use genetic engineering to select the sex of their child by directly manipulating the sex of an embryo. Some might think that this method would be a more ethical method of sex selection than present technologies such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) because, unlike PGD, it does not need to create and destroy “wrong gendered” embryos. This paper argues that those who object to present technologies on the grounds that (...) the embryo is a person are unlikely to be persuaded by this proposal, though for different reasons. (shrink)
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s recent restrictive recommendations on sex selection have highlighted the need for consideration of the plausibility of ethical arguments against sex selection. In this paper, the author suggests a parental virtues approach to some questions of reproductive ethics as a superior alternative to an exclusively harm focused approach such as the procreative liberty framework. The author formulates a virtue ethics argument against sex selection based on the idea that acceptance is a character trait of the (...) good parent. It is concluded that, because the argument presented posits a wrong in the sex selecting agent’s action that is not a harm, the argument could not function as a justification of the HFEA’s restrictive position in light of their explicit commitment to procreative liberty; it does, however, suggest that ethical approaches focused exclusively on harm fail to capture all the relevant moral considerations and thus that we should look beyond such approaches. (shrink)
The prelims comprise: Introduction Developments in Sex‐selective Technology and Practice Empirical Predictions Consequentialist Arguments Radical Feminist Argument: Patriarchy and Gynicide The Liberal Position: The Importance of Choice Liberty, Equality, and Justice Notes.
This paper analyses the British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's 2002 public consultation on sex selection, a consultation that was mainly concerned with sex selection for non-medical reasons. Based on a close reading of the consultation document and questionnaire it is argued that the consultation is biased towards certain outcomes and can most plausibly be construed as an attempt not to investigate but to influence public opinion.
This paper will examine the recent Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority public consultation on sex selection. It will review the current regulation on sex selection in the United Kingdom and critically examine the outcomes of the HFEA consultation. The paper will argue that the current ban on embryo sex selection for social reasons and a proposed ban on sperm selection are not justified. There is no evidence for sex selection causing an increase in sex discrimination; creating a slippery slope towards (...) selection for other non-disease characteristics; or promoting a consumerist attitude towards children. The HFEA recommendations to prohibit social sex selection techniques rely upon an unwarranted concern about the risk of the procedures used. Reproductive technologies should be made available to people unless a substantial risk of harmâto the child, the parents or to societyâcan be identified. There is no such evidence of harm in this case. (shrink)
The March 2002 symposium Human Dignity and Reproductive Technology brought together philosophers, theologians, scientists, lawyers, and scholars from across the United States. The essays of this book are the contributions of the symposium's participants.
: I argue that there is an important analogy between sex selection and selective abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome. There are surprising parallels between the social construction of Down syndrome as a disability and the deeply entrenched institutionalization of sexual difference in many societies. Prevailing concepts of gender and mental retardation exert a powerful influence in constructing the sexual identities and life plans of people with Down syndrome, and also affect their families' lives.