Event: Zürich Winter School on the ethics of human enhancement

4 – 6 March 2015, Institute for Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine, University of Zürich, Switzerland

Technologies that promise to significantly enhance human capacities have become a central topic of debate in biomedical ethics over the past few decades. Such «enhancement technologies» are variously intended to improve cognition, motivation, mood, personality, health and longevity, physical appearance and athletic performance in healthy people. One path towards these types of enhancement is self transformation: it includes methods like psychoactive drugs, different forms of brain stimulation, cosmetic surgery, anabolic steroids, as well as brain-computer interfaces and prosthetic limbs that could potentially outperform natural ones. A second path involves the selection of future human beings (at the embryonic level) on the basis of their genetic make-up.

This Winter School will bring together an international group of experts on the cutting edge of that debate, to discuss questions like: what can we already do to enhance human capacities, and what can we expect to achieve in the future? Does the pursuit of human enhancement involve a search for «perfection», and if so, does this count against it? Do enhancement technologies threaten human dignity and human identity? Will they undermine social justice, or can they perhaps help promote it? Should we reject enhancement interventions that would alter human nature as we know it? And finally, are the potential social benefits of enhancement (e.g. faster progress in medical science made possible by smarter researchers) worth the risks?

SPEAKERS: Nicholas Agar, Pieter Bonte,Line Evéquoz, Johann Roduit, Tobias Eichinger, Vincent Menuz, Alexandre Erler. Selected participants of the University of Zurich project: superhumains.ch will also present parts of their project and some of their findings.

The conference is open to all students, researchers and practitioners from all relevant fields, interested in the ethics of human enhancement. There is no registration fee. 3 ECTS will be given for full participation. Please register by e-mailing johann.roduit@ethik.uzh.ch before 1st February 2015 with your name, title and affiliation. Places are limited.

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