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323 William St

323 William Street

Perth, WA 6000

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Perth Philosophy Circle presents:

Public Philosophy: Technological Possibilities and the Promise of Utopia

A 6 part, monthly, public lecture series.

PART 3: "Modern Medical Technology: Possibilities, Problems and Profit"

In this presentation, I shall reflect upon the modern adoption of medical technology, focusing on how the instrumental use of biomedical technologies to reduce patient suffering has, at the same time, also reinforced a scientific perspective about human life, stripped of its meaningful context. To support my argument, I will turn to Fredrik Svenaeus, who extends Martin Heidegger’s critique of technoscience into the realm of medicine. In particular, I will focus on Svenaeus’ claim that medical technologies promote understanding human beings exclusively as scientific objects, leaving us without a meaningful context to think through the challenges of medicalisation, genetic therapies in reproduction, palliative care and the limits of medical intervention more generally. To show the potential for medical technologies to radically reconfigure our meaningful lives from birth to death, I will outline the changes in human reproduction wrought by genetic therapies and embryonic selection, and the technological management of human death in palliative care. Through these examples I hope to highlight that, while medical technologies open up new possibilities for human life, the scientific control they offer cannot address the fundamental question of whether or not we ought to take up these new potentialities. Having established the transformative character of medical technologies for our meaningful lives, I will subsequently elucidate how these technologies support the trend towards medicalisation, whereby undesirable human conditions and behaviours are reconceived of as illnesses. I will then outline how medicalisation has been economically exploited in modern healthcare, underscoring how pharmaceutical businesses generate profits by selling technologies to address these newly defined pathologies. In summary, I hope to show that, while it is impossible and undesirable to abandon our use of medical technologies, we should challenge the reductive understanding of human beings this technology promotes, in order to clarify the meaningful impact of future technological possibilities for medicine and human existence more broadly.


Presented by Charles Foster, PhD Candidate


SERIES DESCRIPTION

We live in a world of rapid technological development. New technological instruments have changed our everyday lives in countless ways, while technological thinking has transformed the world in which we live. Advancements in technology allow us to save time and offer us many conveniences, but they have also contributed to some of our most pressing current social issues, such as global warming, mass surveillance and big data. What is the meaning of technology though? Is technology simply instrumental? What does it mean to think technologically and how does this way of thinking play out in our social and political spheres?


Being confronted with large social and political issues today, we often see technology as a saving grace, but can it offer solutions to the problems we face? In this series of lectures, we hope to raise questions about what technology is, and how it shapes our visions of the future. Will technology allow us to realise a better future or, as some have suggested, is it leading us into a “new dark age”?


In this series of lectures, we hope to open up a space of dialogue in order to engage with the way technology is shaping our modern world. Throughout we will discuss the possibility of seeing our shared future differently. Each lecture will last roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour and will be followed by questions and conversation.


We invite you to join us for a night of ideas, discussion and drinks as we ask what it means to be human in the modern world.

No knowledge of philosophy is required; everyone is welcome to attend.

Free to attend. All refreshments and food are available for purchase from The Moon Café.


For more info including lecture slides and suggested readings: https://perthphilosophycircle.com/

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323 William St

323 William Street

Perth, WA 6000

Australia

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