Integrating the Biological and the Technological: Time to Move Beyond Law’s Binaries?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The common law takes a bounded approach to persons and objects: something is either a person (subject) or a thing (object), but not both. This conceptualisation of persons as bounded selves and objects as separate from persons represents an encumbrance that goes to the very heart of law. The person–thing binary is so fundamental that it both structures the law conceptually and dictates its practical applications. This chapter explores the consequences of this legacy in relation to ‘everyday cyborgs’ – that is, persons with attached and implanted medical devices. Drawing on Graeme Laurie’s work, it argues that recognising the inherent liminality of everyday cyborgs (and everyday cyborg technologies) allows us to look beyond law’s binaries more fully to account for the ‘spaces in-between’. The chapter finds that Laurie’s liminal analysis of law and his framework for processual regulation give us much needed analytical tools to begin to look beyond boundaries, beyond binaries and beyond bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and Legacy in Medical Jurisprudence
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honour of Graeme Laurie
EditorsEdward Dove, Niamh Nic Shuibhne
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781108903295
ISBN (Print)9781108842433
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Regulation
  • medical devices
  • liminality
  • processual governance
  • everyday cyborgs
  • bodies
  • boundary-work
  • sociotechnological change


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