Normative Aesthetics of Vulnerability: The Art of Coping with Vulnerability

  • Mark Coeckelbergh
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 12)


Usually ethical and political-philosophical discussions do not involve a discussion of aesthetics. The latter is understood as being concerned with matters of beauty and taste, whereas ethics is seen as being about right and wrong or about good and virtue. Yet in this chapter, I will argue that when it comes to evaluating vulnerability transformations and indeed when it comes to thinking about what kinds of humans we want to be, such a sharp distinction between ethics and aesthetics is unfruitful for two main reasons. First, the aesthetics of vulnerability is normative in various ways and therefore deserves its place within a normative anthropology of vulnerability broadly conceived. Second, ethics itself, and therefore also the ethics of vulnerability, can be understood as a kind of art. Thus, it is not only the case that normative anthropology is ‘also’ about beauty; I will argue that it is also and crucially about coping with vulnerability as an art, understood in the sense of a craft or technè, which requires skills. There is not only an extrinsic but also an intrinsic connection between ethics and aesthetics.


Human Form Aesthetic Judgment Human Enhancement Enhancement Technology Geiger Counter 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Coeckelbergh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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