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'It's my body and I'll do what I Like with it' Bodies as possessions and objects


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Speaker(s): Professor Anne Phillips
Chair: Professor Emily Jackson

Recorded on 29 September 2010 in Old Theatre, Old Building.

We commonly use the language of body ownership as a way of claiming personal rights, though we do not normally mean it literally. Most people feel uneasy about markets in sexual or reproductive services, and though there is a substantial global trade in body tissues, the illicit trade in live human organs is widely condemned. But what, if any, is the problem with treating bodies as resources and/or possessions? Is there something about the body that makes it particularly inappropriate to apply to it the language of property, commodities, and things? Or is thinking the body special a kind of sentimentalism that blocks clear thinking about matters such as prostitution, surrogate motherhood, or the sale of spare kidneys?

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