Theory, Culture and Society 27 (1):110-129 (2010)

This article details how patent law works to create discrete, immutable biological ‘objects’. This socio-legal maneuver is necessary to distinguish these artifacts from the unwieldy realm of the natural world. The creation of ‘objects’ also serves the interests of capital, where a stable, unchanging, immutable object goes hand in hand with commodification. Yet this stabilization is incomplete. Pointing to a variety of different examples, this article illustrates how biotech patents do not speak to specific, immutable things. Biotech patents, rather, are better understood as ontologically fluid, which is to say their identity cannot be ‘fixed’ — or, at least, not without undermining the very existence of today’s biotechnology regime. The article concludes by speaking briefly about how this mutability is perpetuating certain inequalities, particularly between holders of various property forms.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0263276409350360
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,436
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Do Artifacts Have Politics?Langdon Winner - 1980 - Daedalus 109 (1):121--136.
The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment.Richard Lewontin - 2000 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):611-612.
Liberalism and the Art of Separation.Michael Walzer - 1984 - Political Theory 12 (3):315-330.
Norms and Ideology in Science.Michael J. Mulkay - 1976 - Social Science Information 15 (4-5):637-656.
How Can You Patent Genes?Rebecca S. Eisenberg - 2002 - American Journal of Bioethics 2 (3):3 – 11.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Commercialization, Patents and Moral Assessment of Biotechnology Products.Rogeer Hoedemaekers - 2001 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 26 (3):273 – 284.
Labeling Products of Biotechnology: Towards Communication and Consent.Debra Jackson - 2000 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 12 (3):319-330.
Surgical Patents and Patients — the Ethical Dilemmas.Tadeusz Tołłoczko - 2005 - Science and Engineering Ethics 11 (1):61-69.


Added to PP index

Total views
11 ( #856,162 of 2,520,399 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #405,718 of 2,520,399 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes