Accepted Paper:

From "matters of concern" to "matters of ethical concern": Ethics and issue (non)making in the Austrian ART debate  


Anna Pichelstorfer (University of Vienna)

Paper long abstract:

It is generally agreed upon in STS that assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have various implications for and provide challenges to societies and that ethics is pivotal to its governance. Many studies show that bioethics has become a framing through which life itself is apprehended and through which policies and practices are and should be legitimized. However, little attention has been paid to how ART are constructed as ethical topic and what this entails. This paper seeks to address this gap and investigates the ways by which certain matters of ART are rendered (non)issues by framing them as ethically problematic. Using data from my PhD project which researches the debate on the current regulation of ART in Austria I look at how, by whom and under what circumstances assisted reproductive technologies are constructed as an ethical topic. Different actors enact different objects of concerns in the debate. I want to pay particular attention to the absences that emerge in these practices. As will be shown, enacting certain matters in ART as ethical concerns influences how these concerns are organized in terms of how and by whom they can be presented as well as how they emerge as present or absent in the debate. Hence, I do not take an ethical framing for granted but aim to unravel how bioethics influences the ways issues are rendered either as (ir)relevant or as (non)debatable.

Panel C4
Non-concerns about science and technology and within STS