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Can Science Make Sense of Life?

Can Science Make Sense of Life?

Sheila Jasanoff

ISBN: 978-1-509-52271-2

Jul 2018, Polity

156 pages




Since the discovery of the structure of DNA heralded the birth of the genetic age, an entire vocabulary has emerged to express our growing command over the matter of life, from decoding and sequencing to manipulating and editing. Biology and biotechnology, scientists proclaim, are poised to rewrite the book of life.

Yet, how far can science go in making sense of what "life" means to human beings and societies? This book looks at flash points in law, politics, ethics, and culture - artificial reproduction, stem cell research, gene drives, the creation of synthetic organoids - to argue that the claims of rewriting life are overblown. Science may have editorial authority over one of the books of life, but not over the entire library that defines the values that have held us together through human history: the meanings of autonomy, integrity, and privacy; the bonds of kinship and family; and the place of humans in nature.

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