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Sign Systems Studies

Volume 29, Issue 1, 2001

Augusto Ponzio, Susan Petrilli
Pages 263-274

Bioethics, semiotics of life, and global communication

Ethical problems connected with biological and medical discoveries in genetic engineering, neurobiology and pharmaceutical research, reach a unified and critical point of view in bioethics as a specific discipline. But even before reaching this stage, ethical problems already belong to two totalities: the semiobiosphere. and the current social form of global communication. Coherently with its philosophical orientation, bioethics must necessarily keep account of this double contextualisation. The semiobiosphere is the object of study of global semiotics or the semiotics of life. Global semiotics is of particular interest to bioethics not only because of the broad context it provides for the problems treated by bioethics, but also because it provides bioethics with an adequate contextualisation both in terms of extension, of quantity, as well as of quality. From this point of view, "contextualisation" also means critical reformulation. We are now alluding to the need of viewing bioethical problems in the light of today's socio-economic context, that is, in the context of global communication-production. These contextualisations are closely related from the viewpoint of ethics. Semiotics as global semiotics or semiotics of life must accept the responsibility of denouncing incongruencies in the global system, any threats to life over the entire planet inherent in this system.

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