Revista de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1518-8787
Print version ISSN 0034-8910
ARAN, Márcia and PEIXOTO JUNIOR, Carlos Augusto. Vulnerability and bare life: bioethics and biopolitics today. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2007, vol.41, n.5, pp.849-857. Epub June 04, 2007. ISSN 1518-8787. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0034-89102006005000038.
The study had the objective of analyzing the notion of vulnerability that is used by bioethics to debate research involving human beings today, from reflections on biopolitics in contemporary culture. For this, the starting point was Giorgio Agamben's reading of Foucault's model of power (Sovereignty and Biopolitics), with the aim of subsequently analyzing the notion of bare life: "life without any value". If the devices of power in modern democracies conjoin biopolitical strategies with the emergence of the strength of sovereign power that transforms life into bare life, in fact bioethics must be an instrument for protecting people who have become vulnerable. Nevertheless, beyond the territory of the rule of law, bioethics must also penetrate the undifferentiated zones where sovereignty and techniques become mixed, disrespecting the frontiers of biopolitics and questioning the condition of vulnerability itself.
Keywords : Bioethics; Vulnerability; Health vulnerability; Value of life; Health research policy; Ethics, research; Human experimentation [ethics].