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Constructing the Biotech Nonhuman Animal: Instrumentalism and Ambivalence

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This article was designed to give insight into the role of biotechnology in redefining the complex human-animal relations of our times. In particular, it is used to examine accounts of nonhuman animals and animal usage in the context of biotechnology, as covered in the leading scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. Data consist of editorials, commentaries, and research news for four years (N = 104), and has been analyzed using discourse analysis. The journal constructs a consistent, yet one-sided, view on animals as they are represented through physico-material, technical and biomedical discourses, as well as discourses on human benefits and manageable risks. The biotechnological epistemology of the animal is positioned at the far end of the subjectification-instrumentalization continuum in our treatment of other animals. It also clashes with simultaneous discussions on animal mind, subjectivity, and moral status. These developments are likely to further intensify the discrepancies in human-animal relations in science and society.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Social Sciences/Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä


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