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Family Resemblances: Human Reproductive Cloning as an Example for Reconsidering the Mutual Relationships between Bioethics and Science Fiction

Abstract

In the traditions of narrative ethics and casuistry, stories have a well-established role. Specifically, illness narratives provide insight into patients’ perspectives and histories. However, because they tend to see fiction as an aesthetic endeavour, practitioners in these traditions often do not realize that fictional stories are valuable moral sources of their own. In this paper I employ two arguments to show the mutual relationship between bioethics and fiction, specifically, science fiction. First, both discourses use imagination to set a scene and determine a perspective. Second, bioethics and science fiction share the family resemblance of expressing moral beliefs. I then consider how understanding bioethics and science fiction as interrelated discourses can be the basis of a methodology for inquiry into relational autonomy in the context of biotechnologies and medicine. As an example of this methodology, I analyse Fay Weldon’s novel The Cloning of Joanna May (1989).

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Notes

  1. The narratological term “autodiegesis” denotes a story that is told and focalized by an “I.” “Heterodiegesis,” on the contrary, denotes a story told by a character who is not part of the fabula (Genette 1983, 50).

  2. A prominent example of consequentialism’s influence and its common employment in British culture is the Warnock Commission, which investigated the rise of new reproductive technologies in Great Britain (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office 1988).

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Acknowledgments

I am very thankful to the Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Göttingen University Medical  Center, for supporting my independent research. I also want to thank Greg Sax for his help with language.

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Correspondence to Solveig L. Hansen.

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Hansen, S.L. Family Resemblances: Human Reproductive Cloning as an Example for Reconsidering the Mutual Relationships between Bioethics and Science Fiction. Bioethical Inquiry 15, 231–242 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-018-9842-0

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