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Taking responsibility for cloning: discourses of care and knowledge in biotechnological approaches to nonhuman life

By J. L. W. Carey

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This article examines the practice of animal cloning in relation to discourses of care and responsibility, in particular a common cultural interpretation of care theorized by Michel Foucault. This interpretation figures care as a "pastoral" relation premised in essential differences between carers and objects of care, and its interspecies implications are increasingly drawing the attention of theorists in animal studies. This article argues that, perhaps despite appearances, animal welfare in the form of pastoral care and abstract conceptualizations of animals that are dominant in discourses of animal biotechnology are not mutually exclusive, but rather in practice may be operating in conjunction with each other, discursively working together to naturalize ethics of biotechnology and animal welfare that reinforce rather than question human dominance and superiority. Specifically, mapping the normative framework of pastoral care onto the existing scientific orientation to acquiring knowledge of animal bodies produces a definition of care that is presumed to be both finite and perfectible. Ultimately, critical analysis of biotechnological manifestations of care and responsibility enables both a theorization of the industry's performance of responsibility independently of its care-related claims about its own practices, and the elucidation of an alternative framework for assessing interspecies ethics that maintains a critical distance from the supposed "naturalness" or "unnaturalness" of interspecies relationships such as cloning.

Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 28
Issue 3
Pages 589-599
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
DOI 10.1007/s10806-015-9544-0
Language English
Author Address Cultural Studies Program, Wilfrid Laurier University, 3-134 Woods Bldg., 75 University Ave. West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5,
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Attitudes
  3. Clones
  4. Domestic animals
  5. Ethics
  6. Knowledge
  7. Livestock
  8. opinions
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. regulations
  11. Research
  1. peer-reviewed