•  19
    Roberto Esposito’s ‘Affirmative Biopolitics’ and the Gift
    Theory, Culture and Society 33 (2): 53-76. 2016.
    This article develops the affirmative biopolitics that Roberto Esposito intimates in his trilogy – Communitas, Immunitas and Bı´os. The key to this affirmative biopolitics lies in the relationship between the munus, a form of gift that is the root of communitas and immunitas, and the gift discourse that developed throughout the 20th century. The article expands upon Esposito’s interpretation of four theoretical sources that are crucial to his biopolitical perspective: Mauss and the gift-exchange…Read more
  • In this volume, Tierney identifies convenience as the value of central importance to the development of modern technical culture. While revealing modern attitudes toward technology, the human body, mortality, and necessity, Tierney focuses on the cultural value of convenience and on modern attitudes which emphasize consumption rather than production of technology.
  •  13
    Foucault on the Case: The Pastoral and Juridical Foundation of Medical Power
    Journal of Medical Humanities 25 (4): 271-290. 2004.
    This paper employs Foucault’s concept of “governmentality” to examine critically the efforts by medical humanists to reform the medical case. I argue that these reform efforts contribute to the individualizing dimensions of medical power through the development of a “pastoral” technique that medicine has taken over from religious authority. Clinical experiences at this NEH Institute also revealed a juridical dimension of the medical case that treats a patient’s statements as suspect and in need …Read more
  •  2
    The Preservation and Ownership of the Body
    In Gail Weiss & Honi Fern Haber (eds.), Perspectives on Embodiment: The Intersections of Nature and Culture, Routledge. pp. 233--261. 1999.
    In this essay I will examine the changing historical relationship between two fundamentally modern concepts: self-preservation and self-ownership. These two concepts have served a dual function in modernity. On the one hand, they are crucial parts of the theoretical underpinning of liberalism: the natural law of self-preservation is the foundation of the rational inclination to form civil society (e.g., Hobbes); and self-ownership provides the foundation for the liberal (i.e., Lockean) notion …Read more
  •  26
    This essay contributes to critical reflection on the extensive role that medicine has played, and continues to play, in establishing and maintaining the uniquely modern form of social order that Foucault described as “governmentality.” It does so by linking Foucault’s later work on governmentality and biopower, from his courses at the Collège de France in the late-1970s, with his early work on the crucial role that pathological anatomy played in founding modern medicine, which was presented in …Read more
  • A Genealogy of Convenience: A Critical Interpretation of Technical Culture
    Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst. 1990.
    This dissertation presents a critique of modern, technical culture. It focuses on the value of convenience, and argues that this value underlies, to a great extent, modern attitudes toward technology, especially attitudes toward the consumption of technology. In a sense, the dissertation is meant to be a complement to that line of thought which identified the domination of nature as the value which guided the development of science and technology. While the domination of nature may be the value …Read more
  •  95
    Suicidal thoughts: Hobbes, Foucault and the right to die
    Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (5): 601-638. 2006.
    Liberal articulations of the right to die generally focus on balancing individual rights against state interests, but this approach does not take full advantage of the disruptive potential of this contested right. This article develops an alternative to the liberal approach to the right to die by engaging the seemingly discordant philosophical perspectives of Michel Foucault and Thomas Hobbes. Despite Foucault’s objections, a rapprochement between these perspectives is established by focusing on…Read more
  •  53
    The reemergence of the question of suicide in the medical context of physician-assisted suicide seems to me one of the most interesting and fertile facets of late modernity. Aside from the disruption which this issue may cause in the traditional juridical relationship between individuals and the state, it may also help to transform the dominant conception of subjectivity that has been erected upon modernity's medicalized order of death. To enhance this disruptive potential, I am going to exami…Read more
  •  177
    Toward an Affirmative Biopolitics
    Sociological Theory 34 (4): 358-381. 2016.
    This essay responds to German theorist Thomas Lemke’s call for a conversation between two distinct lines of reception of Foucault’s concept of biopolitics. The first line is comprised of sweeping historical perspectives on biopolitics, such as those of Giorgio Agamben and Antonio Negri, and the second is comprised of the more temporally focused perspectives of theorists such as Paul Rabinow, Nikolas Rose, and Catherine Waldby, whose biopolitical analyses concentrate on recent biotechnologies su…Read more
  • This paper reflects critically on the late-modern obsession with health by presenting Descartes as an almost ideal type of the health-conscious subject. Descartes’ life, works and death are interpreted from the unlikely combination of the theoretical perspectives of Charles Taylor and Jean Baudrillard. Despite significant differences, both of these theorists rely heavily on Weber's concept of disenchantment, and each develops a ‘punctual’ concept in their analysis of modernity. Specifically, the…Read more