Law and the Machine: Fluid and Mechanical Selfhood in The Ghost in the Shell

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Where is the boundary between human and machine? This is an important question for law, and one this chapter fails to answer. Indeed, the aim in the following pages is emphatically not to produce answers, but to provoke thought and reflection. My concern is not with delineating the human, but with showing the deep uncertainty that haunts the human’s boundaries in our contemporary and increasingly technologised world. This provocation begins with an initial overview of the growing integration of technology into our human lives and the impact this has, in terms of human-machine boundaries, on fundamental legal concepts. We then dive headlong into the fluid conceptual landscape of Shirow Masamune’s classic manga work The Ghost in the Shell, examining first the complex line between human and machine represented by the cyborg threshold and the role the eponymous ‘ghost’ plays in solidifying that line, before moving on to examine the fluid self that emerges through philosophical engagement with this work. The chapter closes with a pondering upon the role of law’s regulation as a bringer of certainty in the face of the radical uncertainty found in the boundary between human and machine.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGraphic Justice
Subtitle of host publicationIntersections of Comics and Law
EditorsThomas Giddens
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781317658399
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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