The term “biopolitical” or “biopolitics” can refer to several different yet compatible concepts.
1. The political application of bioethics.
2. A political spectrum that reflects positions towards the sociopolitical consequences of the biotech revolution and Emerging technologies.
3. Political advocacy in support of or opposition to some applications of NBIC (nanotechnology, Biotechnology, and information and cognitive sciences).
4. Public policies regarding applications of NBIC technologies.
Biopolitical issues add a third dimension to the political spectrums of social policy and economic policy.
Along the biopolitical spectrum, there exist both conservative and liberal views of varying strength. There are a number of common stances on biopolitics that are often associated with certain views on social and economic issues. Prominent biopolitical positions include those of technoprogressives, libertarian transhumanists, and both left and right-wing bioconservatives. These categories can also be subdivided into more specific viewpoints, such as Technogaianism, Deep Ecology, and EcoLuddism.
Technoprogressivism is a stance of active support for the convergence of technological change and social change. Technoprogressives argue that technological developments can be profoundly empowering and emancipatory when they are regulated by legitimate democratic and accountable authorities to ensure that their costs, risks and benefits are all fairly shared by the actual stakeholders to those developments.
Technoprogressivism maintains that accounts of “progress” should focus on scientific and technical dimensions, as well as ethical and social ones. For most technoprogressive perspectives the growth of scientific knowledge or the accumulation of technological powers will not represent the achievement of proper progress unless and until it is accompanied by a just distribution of the costs, risks, and benefits of new knowledge and capacities.
Strong technoprogressive positions include support for the civil right of a person to either maintain or modify his or her own mind and body, on his or her own terms, through informed, consensual recourse to, or refusal of, available therapeutic or enabling biomedical technology.
Bioconservatism is a stance of hesitancy about technological development, especially if it is perceived to threaten a given social order. Strong bioconservative positions include opposition to genetic modification of food crops, the cloning and genetic engineering of livestock and pets, and, most prominently, rejection of the genetic, prosthetic, and cognitive modification of human beings to overcome current human biological and cultural limitations.
Left-wing bioconservatives believe that technologies are developed by patriarchal, capitalist systems and should be heavily restricted. They believe that “humanness” determines personhood, but with the exception of embryos.
Right-wing bioconservatives are more likely to raise religious objections to technology. They fully embrace Human racism, believing that humanness is the sole determinant of personhood.
Libertarian transhumanists support human enhancement and full Reproductive rights, but do not believe that Regulation and government intervention is appropriate to manage technology’s risks or ensure the equitable distribution of its benefits. Instead, they may subscribe to Market fundamentalism and believe that the free market is the best tool to address such issues.