Human Enhancement: toward a new kind of human being? Anthropological and ethical perspectives on biological and technical possibilities
- Graduate Academy, University of Tuebingen (Excellence Initiative, DFG; pending approval)
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Interdisciplinary postgraduate workshop
In co-operation with the Forum Scientiarum, University Tübingen
Human Enhancement: toward a new kind of human being?
Anthropological and ethical perspectives on biological and technical possibilities
January the 15th and 16th 2016 at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen
As a being of nature and culture ('Natur-Kulturwesen'), man has always been changing itself and its environment ('Umwelt') and constantly strives for the improvement of its skills and characteristics. As a consequence of the vast increase in biotechnological possibilities for direct intervention in the organism, classic forms of self-formation are now exceeded widely, posing new challenges for ethics and anthropology. Biotechnological interventions which are either already possible or at least anticipated, aim extensively at invasive potentiation of basic physical and psychological dispositions. These practices of human enhancement have understandably been the subject of heated professional, as well as public, debate, whereas the Austrian philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann in this context states that “being human can only be designated as an open project.”
Based on the sites and scopes of these interventions, neuro-enhancements particularly evoke large uneasiness. All the more, as they seem to challenge our opinions on personal integrity and thereby the ways in which we conceive of ourselves in a particularly poignant way. The ethical recommendations meant to guide the praxis of human enhancement, have for a long time been based largely on legal, medical and social considerations. Mindful of moral pluralism and in order to meet the heavily disputed issues connected with human enhancement in all their complexities, it is necessary though, to take into consideration a broad scope of anthropological and moral-philosophical theories. Moreover, many of those who in their practical or scientific work are confronted with issues concerning human enhancement, wish for recommendations, marked not only by the conventions of our society, legal agreements or empirical results, but taking into account and explicating our moral convictions and our conceptions of human nature ('Menschenbilder') as well. The increasing control we have over human life, should therefore be taken as an opportunity to reconsider our basic moral convictions and their links to anthropological theory.
With their far-reaching consequences for our self-understanding as persons and for what we, as such, consider to be important, invasive neuro-enhancement techniques can serve here as concrete examples, up for interdisciplinary reflection. They concretely confront us with the fundamental question, of how in the future we want to see ourselves as human beings. A question which extends further into discussions on such topics as personhood and autonomous, self-responsible action.
This is a student event (e.g. a graduate conference).
December 15, 2015, 5:00pm CET
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