On Commodification and Self-Ownership
Albany Law School
Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, Vol. 20, p. 131, 2008
This Article explores the ongoing jurisprudential dispute over whether commodification of the human body, including gendered commodification as produced by biotechnology, conflicts with a desirable exercise of self-ownership rights. Contrary to the prevailing view, it argues that the commodification of the human body caused by biotechnology, including reproductive technologies, does not necessarily undermine the discourse of emancipatory Lockean self-ownership, or feminist and critical revisions of the Lockean paradigm. Commodification of the body by biothechnology, precisely because this technology is universal and indiscriminate, may extend self-ownership to subjugated groups historically denied it. The commodification so feared in emerging biotechnology finds precedent in earlier anti-slavery and emancipator conceptions of self-ownership, thus undermining many of the central objections to commodification. The Article concludes that there is a real peril that market forces and discrimination may nonetheless disproportionately impact members of subjugated groups and jeopardize the benefits of this newly robust self-ownership.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Date posted: December 12, 2009
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