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Scandal after scandal has revealed that sport has been experimenting with human enhancement on a massive scale. These are among the most high-profile cases. But in fact human enhancement technologies influence all aspects of life. From students and professionals taking modafinil to enhance cognition, focus and drive, to evidence that SSRIs (anti-depressants) affect moral decision making, it is increasingly clear that human enhancement is not just possible: it is happening. Meanwhile, due to prenatal genetic testing, the number of children born with Downs Syndrome has radically dropped. Whole genome analysis will radically change genetic selection at the embryonic and fetal stages. Gene editing promises even greater ability to remove genetic disorders and alter not just the future child, but the genetic destiny of generations to come. Our physical, cognitive, moral, and emotional lives, and those of future generations can all be influenced through these technologies. The age of designer babies has arrived.

What we can do is increasingly powerful. What we should do remains contested. Julian Savulescu will argue that human enhancement is a valid goal of human endeavour. Each type of human enhancement has its own ethical challenges. But to be human is to be better.

This event was a follow-up to the panel discussion, Editing the Human Genome: The Ethics of Moulding our Future .


Julian SavulescuProfessor Julian Savulescu is the director of The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, and the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics. His areas of research include: the ethics of genetics, especially predictive genetic testing, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal testing, behavioural genetics, genetic enhancement, gene therapy. Research ethics, especially ethics of embryo research, including embryonic stem cell research. New forms of reproduction, including cloning and assisted reproduction. Medical ethics, including end of life decision-making, resource allocation, consent, confidentiality, decision-making involving incompetent people, and other areas. Sports ethics. The analytic philosophical basis of practical ethics. Julian is a founder member of the Hinxton Group.

Read more about Julian Savulescu.




Photo credit: dawarwickphotography – license

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