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Transplant Imaginary"Mechanical Hearts, Animal Parts, and Moral Thinking in Highly Experimental Science"$
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Lesley A. Sharp

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520277960

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520277960.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Artificial Life

Artificial Life

Perfecting the Mechanical Heart

(p.90) Chapter Three Artificial Life
Transplant Imaginary

Lesley A. Sharp

University of California Press

Chapter 3, “Artificial Life: Perfecting the Mechanical Heart,” focuses on the second ethnographic domain: bioengineering. Of special concern is how inventors seek to transform the human form, perfecting the flaws of the natal (and, thus, fallible and fleshy) body through biomechanical enhancements, a process often referred to as “tinkering.” This chapter interrogates what comprises moral or virtuous behavior in a field in which many scientists, if asked directly, assert that ethics is the domain of the clinician and not the engineer. As I will demonstrate, however, the often historicized discourse and behaviors of engineers reflect complex moral understandings of what it means to “tinker” with the body and alter its natural form. Those who venture beyond the laboratory and into the clinic also express profound shifts in moral reasoning about what they do, particularly if they encounter patients implanted with the very devices that they helped design.

Keywords:   bioengineering, biomechanical engineering, bioethics, heart pumps, artificial heart, mechanical heart, tinkering, tinkerers

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