Human’s price and value: the problem of body commodification in the context of scientific knowledge

Publication Type:


Transliteration of original Title: 
Chelovek, ego tsena i tsennost': k probleme kommodifikatsii tela v nauchnom poznanii
Olga Popova
Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
Issue number: 
No. 3 (Vol. 49)

Author analyzes the phenomenon of commoditization of human body in the context of the scientific development. It is argued that since the start of the development of  biotechnologies human body has become a very attractive object for economic "investments" in the majority of developed countries. Author considers some anthropological foundations of the body commodification problem and some classifications of the relationships between individuals, science and society.  The following dimensions of these relationships are examined in the paper: 1) an opposition of the individual and science; 2) an altruistic dimension; 3) a compensatory  dimension.  The “oppositional” dimension describes science as an institute that is not focused on the benefits of a certain person through the instrumentalization and commoditization of corporality but is aimed to find the solution to some common social problems. Within the second (altruistic) dimension the individual seeks to make a contribution to the development of science and has no objection against the use of his biomaterials. A shady side of the altruistic dimension is the so-called “false altruism”: a person is encouraged to donate biomaterials without any information about some possible risks and dangers for his health as well as about commercial interest of the researchers. The compensatory dimension comes from the material or moral damage compensation to the individual or his relatives for the use of his/her body (cells, substances, body parts) for biotechnological purposes.



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