Theoretical versus applied ethics: A look at cyborgs

Ethics and the Environment 4 (1):73-77 (1999)
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In this brief comment I will focus on Chris Cuomo's (1998) discussions of theoretical versus applied ethics, and apply this discussion to her suggestion that the cyborg myth, as discussed by Donna Haraway, can be a helpful ecological feminist ideal. Although I agree with Cuomo that some aspects of the cyborg myth might be helpful, I will explore some disturbing aspects of cyborgs. Cuomo is certainly aware of the dangers of the cyborg myth, mentioning many some of them herself My aim is to fill out a discussion of such dangers by arguing that cyborgs are nothing new. In fact, I shall argue that key figures involved in the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including President Truman, identified with the bomb and bomb-centered technology in a cyborgian manner. Obviously, the kind of cyborg identity that could encourage mass murder of the sort involved in our bombings of Japan, and the cyborg ideal that inspires Cuomo, are very different. However, Cuomo's discussion of theoretical versus applied ethics clearly indicates that before ecological feminists accept the cyborg as a theoretical ideal, we should examine how real cyborgs, if there have in fact been any, have functioned within society. Hence, if the case can be made that those responsible for the devastating bombings of Japan were cyborgs, this fact is crucial for anyone promoting a cyborg ideal of any sort to consider. © 1999 Elsevier Science Inc



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Victoria Davion
Last affiliation: University of Georgia

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