As the title says, this is a book about "property," but at the same time, as discussed in the second item below, it is also a book about "ableism."
The English words "possession," "property," and "ownership" can all be translated using the Japanese word "shoyū." I wrote this book without thinking about the differences between these terms in English. Take, for example, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (Macpherson [1962=1980]. Here and throughout the text, the year after the "=" following a citation indicates the year of publication of the Japanese translation), a book I read when I was eighteen years old and first becoming interested in this topic, Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality(Cohen[1995=2005]), published many years later, and Property(Ryan[1987=1993]) - "shoyū" was used in the title of all of these books when they were published in Japanese. I was not sure which term I should choose when it came to the English title of my own book. Chapters 1 and 2 mainly involve the presentation and criticism of a position taken by various thinkers beginning with John Locke. This view, boiled down to its simplest formulation, is "what I make is mine (something over which I should have control)," and in these chapters the terms "ownership" and "self-ownership" are frequently employed.
In Chapter 4, on the other hand, I discuss what is attributed or not attributed to each person as something proper to them or inherently theirs. Here, and this will surely seem quite strange to those familiar with the existing discourse on this topic, I develop the assertion that what is not proper to the person in question should be distributed among all individuals – they should be given ownership of it - as the target of actions such as exchange. The term "property" is therefore used more often here.
My ability in English is limited to reading, and this book was therefore translated by someone else (Robert Chapeskie). There were a few places in which I made changes to the terms used, but for the most part these wordings were chosen by the translator.
To repeat what was said above, the main topic addressed by this book is nōryoku-shugi. "Nōryoku" corresponds to the English word "ability," while "-shugi" is roughly equivalent to the English suffix "-ism." In Japan this term is mostly used with a positive meaning under the same paradigm in which "achievement" is affirmed in contrast with "ascription," but since the end of the 1960s it has in some cases also been used as a term with a critical or pejorative nuance. I basically agree with this stance, and in this book have attempted to show the logical validity of this criticism.
"Meritocracy" is an English word that roughly corresponds to "nōryoku-shugi." Even in English this is a relatively new term, and is currently used to refer to one type of social system or organization. To my way of thinking, however, nōryoku-shugi is not only a kind of social system but also a belief or value, and this belief or value is something that has constantly existed at the very bottom of modern society. I have asked the translator to use the term "ableism" for nōryoku-shugi throughout this text.
I am aware that the word "ableism" refers to segregationism or discrimination against "people with a disability" in a narrow sense, and is a relatively recent term that is not widely used. With this understanding in mind, in this book I use this term to refer to an enormous reality/concept that pervades this society; the main aim of this book is to fundamentally criticize, at least on a theoretical basis, this gargantuan reality/concept, and to demonstrate the existence of other approaches/values. For texts in which I consider actual societies/systems more concretely, please see Tateiwa[2000c], [2004a], , Tateiwa, Murakami and Hashiguchi, Tateiwa and Saito, and Tateiwa and Hotta.
This book also addresses reproductive technology, particularly in Chapter 3, and the bibliography includes many texts that deal with this technology and related issues. I myself, however, both at the time of writing and even more so today, do not have detailed knowledge of this field. For me, the greatest significance of this topic lies in its pointing out one of the routes that leads to the central assertions of this book laid out in Chapter 4. I have not followed developments in the realities on the ground and academic trends since the original text of which this book is a translation was published in 1997. In the sense that it serves as a record of the debate that existed up until the late 1990s, too, I have decided to leave this chapter unchanged.
Prenatal testing and diagnosis, examined in Chapter 9, is more deeply connected to the book’s central theme. In this chapter I wrote everything I had to say about this topic, and since I did not think there was anything more I could add I have not stayed up to date on the current practical realities in this field either. But I think the fundamental line of thought taken in this book was valid, and remains so today even in regard to the various arguments that have been made regarding this topic since its publication.
The consideration of euthanasia and "death with dignity" that is undertaken only fragmentally in this text, on the other hand, is something I have addressed more comprehensively since this book was first published. My examination of this topic currently includes three texts, Tateiwa[2008b], [2009a], and Tateiwa and Arima, and Tateiwa［2009e］ (a transcript of a lecture also available in English and Korean). Tateiwa［2004b］, a book about the lives of people who cannot survive without the use of medical devices such as ventilators, is also deeply connected to this topic. This connection arises out of its relationship to the social movement to legalize euthanasia in Japan (currently this practice, including so-called "passive euthanasia," has not been legalized in this country, and I have spoken out in opposition to its legalization) and also to the main theme of this book. I have also focused on these issues because I think it is more important to think about people who have already been born than about reproductive technology; it is not that I have had no interest because no new technologies have been developed in this area. I believe it continues to be necessary to think and speak about the relationship between ability/disability and the death of a human being.
The second edition of this book was published in 2013. Regarding the main text and notes, the changes made for this edition mainly involved supplementing the citations. Two new chapters were also added, "Simple Basics / Surely Unsure Boundary" and "Prehistory/Then." This text, however, is a translation of the first edition. This approach was chosen because it would have required more time to translate all of the additions, and because since most of the additional works cited in the bibliography are only available in Japanese these citations would presumably not have been of much use to readers of an English translation. At some point I would like to revise the new chapters and include them in a second edition of the English translation.
For the bibliography itself I have included all of the works cited in the second edition as well, with the idea that when it comes to bibliographic information the more the better. Following each text listed, the page(s) on which it is cited in the Japanese second edition can be found in <> following the citation. This will be irrelevant to most readers of the English translation, but I have kept the bibliography from the Japanese text as it is. Among the additional works cited there are many that are not directly related to the main topics addressed in this book. This is because in one of the chapters added for the second edition I include a long note and many references presenting the results of research conducted at the Graduate School of Ritsumeikan University, where I am currently employed. Most of these articles that have been published in journals can be obtained on the Internet, but only in the original Japanese.
The original Japanese text was published as a thick and quite expensive book; the second edition reached 973 pages. I am grateful that it nevertheless managed to acquire far more readers than I had expected, but it would be even longer and more expensive in English. Partly to make it available more cheaply, this English translation is being offered only in an electronic format (e-book). To the same end, I have also adopted a direct sales method through Kyoto Books, an online store I recently began running (using Gumroad). Other editions and formats may be offered in the future, but I have begun by attempting a release in this form.
The second reason I have chosen to publish this text as an e-book is that it makes it easier to issue revised/supplemented versions. This supplementation also constitutes the third reason for my choice of format; in the bibliography in particular there are many links from names of individuals and works cited in the text to related pages on the Internet. Most of these pages are in Japanese, but some are in English. In the future I hope to increase the number and content of English pages, and updating these links and adding supplementary information is only feasible with an electronic version. Insofar as this text is being offered as a first edition translation, I plan to make these supplements and revisions available free of charge to everyone who purchases it.
More information can be found at http://www.arsvi.com/ts/2016b2.htm. I welcome any suggestions for improvement, including the pointing out of any errors in the text or translation (Tateiwa→ email@example.com). Suggestions will be used in improving future revisions. A list of changes/revisions will be made available at the above URL, and reviews of the book will also be posted. I hope readers will take the time to visit our website.
In closing I would like to express my deep gratitude to Robert Chapeskie for translating this terribly difficult book.
What I want to consider is not the question of who I am or where we have come from, but rather the question of what is considered mine or what I consider mine. This inquiry includes, for example, the questions, contradictions and points of contention listed below. Where do these issues come from?
(1) If the organs of one healthy person are given to two patients who require transplants to survive, this action will result in one more person surviving than would otherwise be the case. Even if only one person receives a transplant, the total number of people who are saved and who are not saved is the same as if the transplant had not been carried out. But we do not accept transplants being made in such cases.
Why? Because the organs of the healthy person belong to them? If so we would expect that such transplants would be acceptable if the person in question agreed to give up their organs, but in fact even in these sorts of cases such transplants are not normally accepted. Why?
(2) Consider, for example, surrogate motherhood contracts. These do not seem to be entirely good things. But at very least I think the right of the surrogate mother who gives birth to change her mind in regard to giving up the child should be protected, even if she had wanted to give it up at the time of signing the contract. In other words, self-determination is not to be accepted at face value here.
(3) Another question involves when a "person" whose life must not be taken begins to exist. While I have hesitated to follow the logic of "self-determination" thus far, here I think the "self-determination" of pregnant women should be accepted.
(4) We clearly view people as beings which are to be given special status or privileges. But why? Perhaps because a person possesses something that is not possessed by what is not a person. It would seem that this is the only way this can be stated, but do we really think this is the case? And in what ways, if any, does this idea relate to the question posed in (3)?
(5) If the things a person can sell (their abilities) are few, then what they can receive is also diminished. This is a very obvious point, but it is not as though there is some fault to be found with the person in question. Is this situation not then an instance of what is normally referred to as "discrimination"? In other words, is it not something that must be gotten rid of, or at least something we would be better off without? But what exactly should be gotten rid of, and how are we to go about it? Are such changes possible?
(6) On the other hand, I also affirm ableism. Firstly, I do not buy things that do not have value for me. Secondly, I think there are cases in which evaluation must not be swayed by anything other than ability. However, is the principle of ability (ableism) more acceptable than the ascription principle? If so, why? And do the first and second points above actually amount to the same thing?
(7) Prenatal diagnosis technology exists which can allow us to examine a fetus before it is born and determine the probability of it having a disability. In cases in which the fetus is found to have (or to possibly have) a disability, a selective abortion is likely to follow. There is resistance to this, even if it cannot be determined that it is bad.
(8) There is something called "eugenics." It has been described as using some kind of process to improve the standards of what is inherited (genes) and thereby make humanity better. If so, is this not a good thing? It would at least seem like an activity easier to affirm than to criticize.
At first this might seem a diverse, scattershot list of queries. However, as I will lay out in this book, they are all in fact the same question - this is why I had to address them all in one text. They all amount to asking what belongs to an individual, what they should have the ability to decide, to receive, to hand over or to exchange, and why this is the case. The answer normally given in response to this question is that what I make or control is mine and that I am composed of these abilities to make and control, but what kind of an answer is this? In other words, in this book I consider the extremely antiquated concept of "private ownership." I had previously thought, and now believe even more strongly, that ownership and private ownership are essential subjects to be considered when thinking about this society. The questions listed above are indications of this fact.
In this book I also consider contradictions. There are contradictions within some of the points raised above, and also contradictions between them. For example, it seems difficult to reconcile (5) and (6). Abortion can be accepted (3) assuming there is nothing wrong with a person's body being used or disposed of based on their own judgment and decisions. If so, however, entering into surrogate motherhood contracts (2) can be justified as an instance of a person using something that belongs to them. Also, does the acceptance of abortion not also inevitably lead to the acceptance of selective abortion (7)? There are many apparent contradictions of the kind described above. But I think there is something that can bring both sides of these contradictions together. What kind of thing might this be? In this book I attempt to find out. In doing so I examine what sort of fundamental intuitions are found in the places where solutions arise and do not arise.
At the same time, to the greatest extent possible I am looking for concrete answers. I say this because I am completely dissatisfied with almost all of what has been said in regard to these subjects. Some people tend to simply say that such and such a problem exists, such and such a difficult problem exists, and leave it at that. Other people seem to be saying something when in fact they are not saying anything. For example, there is a "school of thought" that places the whole in opposition to its parts, or the whole in opposition to the individual. It is claimed that if there are no distinctions and everyone is the same then all life is equal. But in fact we do make distinctions. The question is why and where to establish the lines of demarcation. In such cases these sorts of proclamations are too facile to tell us anything useful. Another problem with the discourse on this subject is a tendency to emphasize what is already extremely clear and claim that there is nothing really problematic to be addressed. But the content of these assertions and the arguments they present are not satisfying. That is why I have written this book.
Something exists. But it is vague and sometimes seems contradictory. For some reason I cannot properly put it into words. It is clear that it cannot be explained using the existing (expressed in language) reasoning and discourse found in this society; on the contrary, it seems to me that the pile of concepts and practices that have accumulated makes it even more difficult to see. If we follow these theories we can see which roads they follow and which they do not. Assertions that do not address the real problem, clichéd criticisms, and criticisms which do not go far enough can be criticized in turn as we slowly and careful follow the lines of these arguments. In the midst of this examination we can bring to the surface what is exists as an assumption but is not stated explicitly within the discourse itself, and through this process show that there is something else going on here. This is not an attempt to "invent" something new. What I am trying to do is expose what is already present but has not been sufficiently described in words, and show how the pile of accumulated concepts and practices has covered it over and made it difficult to state. This approach will not be as excessively simple as various other "theories" that have provide terribly tidy reductions of our various realities, but will nonetheless be internally consistent and logical - I think it is wrong to see emotions or senses and logic as being in conflict. Our feelings are logical enough (and what lies at their core may not be that complicated) - we are not capable of thinking of anything very complex.
This "something different" mentioned above does not form the basis of a particular definite idea; for the most part these inquiries have developed along with this process of investigation. What is written here does not depend on a particular body of "thought." One reason for this is that such dependence is not necessary. Furthermore, if something is referred to it is necessary to confirm whether and to what extent the assertion being made is similar to this other idea. In order to do this one must know what the other person is saying. The number of notes and citations needed will presumably increase.
This requires a great deal of effort. I think such an effort is probably necessary and there are no doubt things to be gained by carrying it out, but in part for the sake of being better able to receive the thoughts of others, too, I thought it best to begin by first setting down whatever I could think of on my own.
In this book I am not concerned with presenting facts per se. In the main body of the text I have kept such references to a minimum. I have provided, mainly in the notes following each chapter, discussions of specific situations and practical implications to the minimum extent I felt was necessary in order to allow the reader to understand why I chose to discuss the various topics addressed in this book, what the basis of these discussions is, and to what and whom I am trying to respond. I also introduce various arguments related to the subjects discussed. For the reader's convenience there is a list of works you may find useful in examining these topics. I have tried to keep the notes as brief as possible. They have nonetheless turned out to be quite extensive. Several of the notes contain themes or ideas which would require one or two complete essays to adequately develop. I hope to pursue this task on another occasion. Several of the notes found in different sections are connected to each other. Wherever possible I have noted these connections. The index should also prove to be a useful resource, and even a source of pleasure for those so inclined. It may provide the reader with a better understanding of why this book was written in the way that it was, introduce you to topics only tangentially related to its contents, and allow you to see how different arguments and lines of thought spread out in different directions.
A certain amount of relevant information was included in the text in this manner, but it is not sufficient on its own. The relevant facts discussed are also likely to change over time. It is impossible to update this kind of book on a regular basis, and it is also impossible to attach a price and sell separately information that a substantial number of purchasers will not be able to receive. I will therefore be providing information on the following website: http://www.arsvi.com
I began posting information on this site in June of 1996. The current word count of this information is ten times greater than that of the original book as it was published, providing a substantial expansion of the original text (mainly the notes and bibliography). In Chapters 3 and 9, for example, I was forced to reduce the number and length of quotations given in the original text, but on the arsvi website I provide the original collection of quotations from which these selections where taken in their entirety. I also provide information on "incidents" barely mentioned in the original text. Where copyright is not a problem I intend to make various writings and whole works available. Similarly, as long as copyright is not a problem I would like to invite people to post papers and reports themselves. In the near future I hope that this site will function as a source of information for people with an interest in the topics discussed in this work and as a forum for discussion, and as a result should be a site run jointly by those interested in participating. Please contact me at the following email address if you have any thoughts or information to share or would like to point out an error in the text.