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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 431318
Title Pig towers and in vitro meat: Disclosing moral worlds by design
Author(s) Driessen, C.P.G.; Korthals, M.J.J.A.A.
Source Social Studies of Science 42 (2012)6. - ISSN 0306-3127 - p. 797 - 820.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0306312712457110
Department(s) Applied Philosophy Group
WASS
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2012
Keyword(s) cultured meat - technology - politics - animals - science
Abstract Technology development is often considered to obfuscate democratic decision-making and is met with ethical suspicion. However, new technologies also can open up issues for societal debate and generate fresh moral engagements. This paper discusses two technological projects: schemes for pig farming in high-rise agro-production parks that came to be known as ‘pig towers’, and efforts to develop techniques for producing meat without animals by using stem cells, labelled ‘in vitro meat’. Even before fully entering our world as actually realized systems or commercially viable products, these technologies disclosed societal concerns over animal agriculture. These concerns were expressed through active public responses and were informed by formal methods of assessment, such as applied ethics and lifecycle analysis. By closely examining how features of these designs entered public debates and ethical thought, we trace the moral world-disclosing character of technological projects. We find that these proposals generate occasions for debate and gather new societal actors to form new coalitions or rifts. Both technologies gave rise to particular understandings of societal issues. As the central means through which problems were discussed changed, new types of arguments were considered relevant and ontological shifts could even be seen to occur with what was considered ‘real meat’ and the ‘true nature’ of animal farming. We argue that world disclosing involves a renewed sense of the character of political and moral agency, whereby the sensibilities that constitute a moral subject are redefined. Finally, we explore the inner tensions and ambiguities of this process of moral and political change by confronting the notions of ‘world disclosure’ developed by Dewey and Heidegger, thereby connecting to recent debates within both STS and political theory on how to understand political processes in a technological culture.
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