Human Enhancement: Bioethical Challenges of Emerging Technologies

July 9, 2018 - July 13, 2018
Faculty of Bioethics, Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Aposolorum

Aula Master
via degli Aldobrandeschi 190
Roma 00163



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Human enhancement technologies are used not only to treat diseases and disabilities, but also to increase human capacities and qualities (motor, mental, emotional and aesthetic, and so on). Certain enhancement technologies are already available, for instance, reproductive technologies and plastic surgery. Other technologies are called emerging due to their innovative aspect, such as genetic engineering. There are also speculative technologies, which are only a work hypothesis in biomedical research, for example, mind uploading. A study and analysis of human behavior, as well as the research, production and use of these technologies from bioethical, social, and legal standpoints, seem appropriate and necessary. On the one hand, the scientific community has taken an increasing interest in these innovations and allocated substantial public and private resources to them. On the other hand, such research can have an impact, positive or negative, on individuals, the society, and future generations. Some have advocated the right to use such technologies freely, considering primarily the value of freedom and individual autonomy for those users. Others have called attention to the risks and potential harms of these technologies, not only for the individual, but also for society as a whole. Such use, it is argued, could accentuate the discrimination among persons with different abilities, thus increasing injustice and the gap between the rich and the poor. There is a dilemma regarding how to regulate such practices through national and international laws, so as to safeguard the common good and protect vulnerable persons.

The course offers an interdisciplinary study of human enhancement to better understand the techniques, the benefits, and the inherent risks of these technologies. What will be the impact on our understanding of being human—human nature as we understand it today—and what are the possible consequences for future generations? Participants will acquire the skills to make an ethical assessment of these cutting-edge technologies and learn to manage the use of these technologies in life and medical sciences and make consultations about them. In addition, they will be able to apply this knowledge professionally in the fields of science, medicine, politics, law, sociology, communication, and education.

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June 30, 2018, 9:00am CET

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