The Agency of Things: How spaces and artifacts organize the moral order of an Intensive Care
Keywordsagency of things, affordances, artefacts, ethnography, materiality, methodology, phenomenology of space, philosophy of care
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AbstractThis article focuses on the constitutive role of space and artefacts in delineating the moral order of a specific context. Building on the premises of a post-humanistic phenomenology, it proposes a theoretical contribution to a critical understanding of communication as a complex phenomenon distributed between human and non-human semiotic agents. Drawing on ethnographic research in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the article empirically illustrates this point. It analyses how the interior architecture and some ordinary objects (e.g. the glove box and the alcoholic dispenser, the monitors and the handwritten clinical record) delineate the range of the “right things to do” and participate in telling which philosophy of medicine is at play in this ICU.