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A “we” problem for bioethics and the social sciences: A response to Barbara Prainsack

Simpson, Bob

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In her article “The We in the Me: Solidarity in the Era of Personalized Medicine,” Barbara Prainsack develops an earlier interest in the relationship between solidarity and autonomy and the way that these notions operate once passed through the lens of bioethical thought and practice. In his response to this article, Simpson introduces the perspective of two South Asian physicians on these issues. The piece highlights issues of personhood upon which the informed consent transaction is based and draws attention to the culturally specific versions of how people conceive of relationality, duty, care, and the obligations they feel they owe to others. The piece highlights the pronomial shifts between the “we” and the “me” and the way that these dispositions emerge in sociopolitically configured spaces. By paying careful attention to the settings and situations in which the movements between different positions actually take place, the ways in which the fabric of ethical life is made rather than simply given is revealed. Ethnographic inquiry is seen as crucial in understanding this process because it points to disjunctions between the categories that we are provided to apprehend the world and what it is actually like to live in that world.


Simpson, B. (2018). A “we” problem for bioethics and the social sciences: A response to Barbara Prainsack. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 43(1), 45-55.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 14, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 12, 2017
Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Deposit Date Sep 18, 2017
Publicly Available Date Sep 18, 2017
Journal Science, Technology, and Human Values
Print ISSN 0162-2439
Electronic ISSN 1552-8251
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 1
Pages 45-55
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (428 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Simpson, Bob (2018) 'A “we” problem for bioethics and the social sciences : a response to Barbara Prainsack.', Science, technology, and human values., 43 (1). pp. 45-55. © 2017 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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