A1 Journal article – refereed
A Cyborg Turn in Law?

List of Authors: Mika Viljanen
Publisher: German Law Journal
Publication year: 2017
Journal: German Law Journal
Volume number: 18
Issue number: 5
eISSN: 2071-8322


This Article deploys cybernetic theory to argue that a novel legal impact imaginary has
emerged. In this imaginary, the subjects of legal interventions are performed and enacted as
cybernetic organisms, that is, as entities that process information and adapt to changes in
their environment. This Article, then, argues that in this imaginary, law finds its
effectiveness—not by threatening, cajoling, educating, and moralizing humans as before, but
by affecting the composition of cybernetic organisms, giving rise to new kinds of legal
subjects that transcend the former conceptual boundary between humans and non-humans,
or persons and things. The cybernetic interventions work to change the cyborgs’ behavioral
responses, thus giving law a new kind modality of power. This Article develops a model for
understanding cyborg regulation through case studies and argues that cyborg regulation
deploys three distinct strategies. Cyborgs can be controlled through affecting the
informational inputs the entities receive, through agencement practices that intervene in the
material constitution of the cyborg cognitions, and, finally, by psycho-morphing humans to
make them useful components of the cyborg cognitive machineries. The Article ends with a
discussion of the theoretical implications of the transition to the cyborg imaginary.

Internal Authors/Editors

Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 08:37