Accepted Paper:

Imagining society: some issues in contemporary Norwegian bio-politics  


Marit Melhuus (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses contemporary Norwegian bio-ethics, by exploring an indigenous discursive phenomena: the notion of a “sorting society”. The persuasive power of this notion rests on its capacity to bring together politics, science and religion, articulating a tension between individual and society.

Paper long abstract:

As biosciences are reshaping the concepts and definitions of life and death (Franklin and Lock), biotechnologies have become the subject of politics, power and knowledge worldwide, often converging in contested sites where fundamental, yet contradictory, values are exposed. These values are variously grounded, gaining their legitimacy from different orders of truth. Addressing contemporary Norwegian bio-politics, this paper explores one such contested site through a current discursive phenomenon particular to Norway: the notion of a "sorting society". The term is evocative, suggesting selection, discrimination, even eugenics. It is also negative. Carrying with it an underlying morality, this phenomenon works at the interface between science, religion and the state creating an ethical publicity. The notion of a sorting society articulates a fundamental tension between individual and society.

Panel W036
Moralities of nature