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Can Science Make Sense of Life?
— —
Sheila Jasanoff
Can Science Make Sense of Life? by Sheila Jasanoff at Abbey's Bookshop,

Can Science Make Sense of Life?

Sheila Jasanoff


Polity Press

Philosophy of science


156 pages

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Since the discovery of the structure of DNA and the birth of the genetic age, a powerful vocabulary has emerged to express science's growing command over the matter of life. Armed with knowledge of the code that governs all living things, biology and biotechnology are poised to edit, even rewrite, the texts of life to correct nature's mistakes.

Yet, how far should the capacity to manipulate what life is at the molecular level authorize science to define what life is for? This book looks at flash points in law, politics, ethics, and culture to argue that science's promises of perfectibility have gone too far. Science may have editorial control over the material elements of life, but it does not supersede the languages of sense-making that have helped define human values across millennia: the meanings of autonomy, integrity, and privacy; the bonds of kinship, family, and society; and the place of humans in nature.

By:   Sheila Jasanoff
Imprint:   Polity Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 214mm,  Width: 138mm,  Spine: 17mm
Weight:   298g
ISBN:   9781509522712
ISBN 10:   1509522719
Series:   New Human Frontiers
Pages:   156
Publication Date:   November 2018
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School

By its very terms of inquiry, Can Science Make Sense of Life? highlights critical epistemological perversions in our present governance of biotechnology: confusions between decoding genetic structures and engineering happiness, conflations of privately profitable patent interests and overall human betterment, elisions between raw data and techno-optimism's myth-making capacity. As multinational investments in decoding life have mushroomed in recent years, a narrow range of laboratory science has increasingly arrogated to itself exclusive power to make sense of biological life by misapplying social constructs borrowed from life in cultural, political and legal realms. Founder of Harvard's Science and Technology Studies program, Sheila Jasanoff makes urgent and eloquent case for restoring broadly democratic humanistic complexity to the governing bodies that govern our bodies. Patricia Williams, Columbia Law School

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