Literary BioethicsAnimality, Disability, and the Human

Literary BioethicsAnimality, Disability, and the Human

Maren Tova Linett

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9781479801268

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

Literary Bioethics reads four novels as thought experiments through which to grapple with questions of value regarding animal lives, old lives, disabled lives, and engineered lives. Drawing from literary and cultural theory, disability studies, age studies, animal studies, and bioethics, it considers the value of these different kinds of lives as presented in fiction. The study treats “bioethics” broadly; rather than treating practical issues of medical ethics, it takes “bioethical questions” to mean 1) questions about the value and conditions for flourishing of different kinds of human and nonhuman lives, and 2) questions about what those in power ought to be permitted to do with those lives as we gain unprecedented levels of technological prowess. Exploring how the literary texts engage ideologies such as human exceptionalism, ableism, ageism, and a curative imaginary—a proto-transhumanism that cannot tolerate imperfection—the study demonstrates the power of reading literature bioethically.