Beyond Bodily Integrity

the bioethics of the disordered body




Vulnerability, Bioethics, Phenomenology, Embodiment, Death, Disability, Dying


My focus on vulnerability and bioethics – which acknowledges but goes beyond mainstream feminist ethics - will take a phenomenological perspective that understands the self as having no meaning or existence beyond its embodiment. As such we are always open, and therefore vulnerable, to the constant changes of embodied experience. The transformations in embodiment are both necessary for development and continuous over the life course, but it is only when something breaks the cycle of normative development that the intimation of vulnerability and disorder arise. Corporeal disorder operates in a highly individual and differentiated way as it manifests, for example, in the experience of disability, pain, ageing and dying. These are not exceptional moments of vulnerability in a life otherwise secure and predictable, but they do clearly set out the limits of the western imaginary, and more particularly of modern western biomedicine and conventional healthcare. In offering a critique of the positivist enterprise of biomedicine, I want to suggest a different understanding of the embodiment that has radical implications for bioethics.


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How to Cite

Shildrick, M. (2024) “Beyond Bodily Integrity: the bioethics of the disordered body”, De Ethica, 8(1), pp. 42–58. doi: 10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.248142.