Tag: ethics

26. Who owns your body?

Body Shopping cover

“This is what I think is really surprising to most people: you don’t actually own your body, in the sense that tissue taken from it and used afterwards is yours to use as you see fit.

“The law traditionally took the view that tissue, once it had left the body, was what was called ‘no one’s thing’.

“And it took that view because traditionally the tissue wasn’t of any value. It is modern biotechnology that has given it this value.”

This podcast is an extended version of an interview I did with Donna Dickenson for Blackwell Online about her book Body Shopping: Converting Body Parts to Profit.

We talked about the global commodification of the human body, from the sale of eggs and the “grave-robbing” of bones to gene-patenting.

Donna’s approach is not to sensationalize these issues, shocking though they often are, but to look at the big questions we as a society need to face in their ethical, legal and scientific context.

8. A Philosopher in Everytown

Julian Baggini Philosophy can seem the most cerebral and abstract of disciplines. So what would happen if a philosopher stepped out of his study and ’embedded’ himself in an ordinary (but unfamiliar) community in his own country and tried to work out whether the English people have anything which could reasonably be called a philosophy?

That’s exactly the challenge that Julian Baggini set himself in 2005, when he left his comfort zone in Bristol and moved to Rotherham, which, it turns out, is as typical as you can hope to find of how the English live now.

We met this month to coincide with the paperback publication of his account of his sojourn, Everytown, and I asked him how his assumptions about what he would find had matched up to reality. Here’s the list he made as he travelled north:

Everytown cover‘On the train, I jotted down a list of values and characteristics I expected to find, making no attempt to mask my prejudices. I thought there would be toleration for difference, but no real love for it, and only as long as it is not perceived as threatening. There would be provincialism. People’s aspirations would be modest, or else for superficial things like fame or wealth. The best life would be comfortable and fun.

People would think religion was for weirdos and philosophy for boffins. Anti-intellectualism would be rife. People would have their philosophies of life, which would be simple but true: be thankful for what you’ve got, make the most of what you have; time waits for no man.

Although in behaviour most people would be sexually liberal, most still want to be married and think that children deserve two married parents. There would be a thin line between having some youthful fun and being a slag. Homophobia would be normal.

Despite the talk of a national culinary renaissance, people would still eat badly and the ‘best restaurant around’ would be rubbish…’

6. Discovering Our Inner Ape

Frans de WaalWhat aspects of our human character do we inherit from our fellow primates? Until recently, the answer would have been ‘all the bad bits’. Footage of chimpanzees killing their own kind influenced the view in the popular imagination that ‘killer’ and ‘ape’ were virtual synonyms.
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