, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 241-258

Pragmatism, Artificial Intelligence, and Posthuman Bioethics: Shusterman, Rorty, Foucault

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Michel Foucault's early works criticize the development of modern democratic institutions as creating a “surveillance society,” which functions to control bodies by making them feel watched and monitored full time. His later works attempt to recover private space by exploring subversive techniques of the body and language. Following Foucault, pragmatists like Richard Shusterman and Richard Rorty have also developed very rich approaches to this project, extending it deeper into the literary and somatic dimensions of self-stylizing. Yet, for a debate centered on the re-creation of the vision of the self, these discussions have yet to fully engage—even while they set the conditions for this engagement with—issues of posthuman technologies, such as AI, robotics, and genetic engineering. These certainly will constitute the primary engine of public institutional surveillance in the years to come. With this surveillance, the two spheres of private self-fashioning and public institutions will continue to evolve in relation to one another. As they do so, democratic society will change considerably. Perhaps Rorty's own normative and linguistic ideal of conversational maintenance may provide something of a democratic limit case on any future posthuman self-fashioning.