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Title page for ETD etd-05262013-135853

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hall, Melinda Charis
URN etd-05262013-135853
Title Transhumanist Utopias: Rethinking Enhancement and Disability
Degree PhD
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kelly Oliver Committee Chair
Charles Scott Committee Member
Eva Kittay Committee Member
Lisa Guenther Committee Member
  • stigma
  • disability rights
  • disability
  • Michel Foucault
  • radical enhancement
  • transhumanism
Date of Defense 2013-05-15
Availability unrestricted
Working at the nexus of bioethics and disability studies, I argue that the quest for human enhancement is at least partially motivated by the rejection of the disabled body. In other words, positive and negative eugenics are paired together in bioethical treatments of enhancement. To demonstrate this, I critically assess the work of transhumanist bioethicists Nick Bostrom and Julian Savulescu, who strongly promote an assortment of enhancement strategies as moral obligations. I carry my assessment forward by drawing from Michel Foucault and feminist disability studies and using the transhumanist strategy of negative genetic selection as a case study. I claim that transhumanism is perniciously utopian; it figures disability as a site of risk and seeks the proliferation of choice for a utopian agent through radical medical interventions. Marking this restrictive “location” of disability, which defines disability against a utopian body, I describe parallels between bioethical and political images of disability by investigating the “location” of disability in liberal theory. Both locations are restrictive and attach stigma to persons with disabilities.
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