The promise of Human Enhancement – A dead end or the ultimate crisis-response?

The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) and Erasmus University Rotterdam invite PhD students and ReMa students in philosophy to register for the course “The promise of Human Enhancement” to take place from August 30 to September 3, 2021.

Organizing university

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Date(s)

August 30 to September 3, 2021

Location

Erasmus University Rotterdam & Online

Type of activity

5 day summer school

Type of activity

For this activity PhD students and ReMa students can – after successful completion – earn a certificate. However, the OZSW is not accredited to reward students with credits/ECTS directly. The study load is mentioned on the certificate, which can usually be exchanged for ‘real’ credits (ECTS) at your home university. The study load for this activity is as follows: 5 ECTS.

Primary target group

PhD students and 2nd year ReMa students

If places available, also open to

1st year ReMa students

Application/registration deadline

August 15, 2021

About the topic

New developments in the fields of nano- and biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (NBIC) not only generate new methods of treating diseases and restoring good health. They also promise increasing potentials of human enhancement – the improvement of one’s human capacities beyond their normal functions. These potentials elicit ethical challenges and fundamental questions concerning our self-understanding as human beings as well as our ideals of being human.

Radical global challenges like the COVID-19 crisis and the climate crisis also challenge ideals of the ‘superhuman’ or ‘transhuman’ and of human mastery over (one’s own) nature. In response to these crises ideals of the human being seem to shift from ideals of autonomy, high-performance, progress or perfection to ideals of resilience, adaptability or to an ideal of respect for the diversity, vulnerability, and the general limitations of human lives.

Will the promise of human enhancement turn out to be a dead end or is it the optimal crisis-response? Will this promise be transformed into the promise of using existing tools of enhancement to make humans crisis-proof? And if enhancements aim at overcoming susceptibility to crisis, will this development (further) blur the lines between therapy and enhancement as well as between normality and optimality? How precisely are ideals of being human about to change – for example ideals of optimal human capacities, of longevity, of flourishing, or of good health? What does that mean for the ongoing bioethical debates on different means and ends of human enhancement?

Aim / objective

It is the main goal of this summer school to enable the participants to critically discuss and evaluate different options and ideals of human enhancement and put them into the broader context of the ethical and societal challenges of current crises and transformations.

  • They will gain a deeper understanding of the ethical and societal challenges of human enhancement and self-optimization in times of crisis – in particular the COVID-19 crisis, but also the climate crisis, or crises of health care and economy.
  • They will gain a deeper understanding of the ideals of the human being that are discussed in the enhancement debate and of potential shifts of these ideals that are caused by new global challenges, transformations of values and ethical standards as well as by the fast advancement of NBIC technologies.
  • They will distinguish between different uses of the concept of enhancement – in contrast to therapy but also with regard to the ideals and standards that determine what is considered as health, well-being or as “better than well” in different fields of application – and discuss potential shifts and changes of this concept in current bioethical and societal debates.
  • They will be enabled to respond in their research to current developments and changes without losing sight of fundamental and timeless issues.
  • They will have the opportunity to present their own research questions, methods, and ideas for discussion with experts and peers and receive detailed feedback and “feed-forward” on their current projects and future plans.

Program

This is a preliminary program. The exact order and titles of the presentations may change. 

Monday, August 30

13:00 – 13:45 Welcome & Introduction: Human Enhancement as crisis response? Katharina Bauer 

13:45-14:00 Coffee Break

14:00 – 16:00 Lectures & Discussion: 

Enhancement: ethical arguments and regulations Maartje Schermer  

Enhancement and self-understanding: a dialectical perspective Hub Zwart 

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 – 17:30 Student introductions

18:00 Online Borrel

Tuesday, August 31

10:00 – 10:15 Welcome

10:15 – 12:00 Student Presentations 

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break

13:30 – 15:00 Student Presentations

15:00 – 15:30 Coffee/tea break

15:30 – 17:00 Lecture & Discussion: General remarks on human enhancement Erik Parens 

17:30 Online Borrel

Wednesday, September 1 

15:00 – open end: Socializing Event & Dinner in Rotterdam

Thursday, September 2

10:00 – 10:30 Welcome

10:30 – 12:00 Lecture & Discussion: The biopolitics and neuropolitics of cognitive enhancement Pieter Lemmens 

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break

13:30 – 15:00 Lecture & Discussion: Moral Enhancement   Pei-hua Huang and Jona Specker

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee/tea break

15:30-17:00 Lecture & Discussion: Human Enhancement & climate crisis Patrick Smith

17:30 Online Borrel

Friday, August 30

10:00 – 10:30 Welcome

10:30 – 12:00 Student Presentations / Group Work

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break

13:30 – 15:00 Lecture & Discussion: Love Enhancement Sven Nyholm

15:00-15:15 Coffee Break

15:15-16:00 Conclusions & Discussion

Katharina Bauer, Maartje Schermer, Hub Zwart

16:00-16:15 Closing

Lecturers

Katharina Bauer, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
Pei-hua Huang, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam
Pieter Lemmens, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Sven Nyholm, Utrecht University
Erik Parens, The Hastings Center New York
Maartje Schermer, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam
Patrick Smith, TU Twente
Jona Specker, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam
Hub Zwart, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam

Required preparations

Participants are expected to:

  • Read all the assigned literature.
  • Prepare questions for each session.
  • Actively participate in discussions and group work.
  • Give a presentation about your (potential) research project on human enhancement and its relation to contemporary challenges.
  • Write a short essay (2000 words) to be submitted before the end of September.

Certificate / credit points

For this course PhD students and ReMa students can earn a certificate after successful completion. Please note, however, that the OZSW is not accredited to reward students with credits/ECTS directly. The study load is mentioned on the certificate, which can usually be exchanged for ‘real’ credits (ECTS) at your home university. For more info please see https://www.ozsw.nl/request-certificate/.

The study load for this activity is specified as follows:
1. Attending the course and writing a short paper (2000 words, excluding bibliography) after the course (submission deadline: 30 September 2021): 5 EC. Papers are not graded but assessed as follows: sufficient or insufficient.
2. Simple attendance, including preparation by reading the assigned literature and participation in the discussions: 2,5 EC.

Costs

OZSW Members (socializing event & dinner excluded): 0 euro
OZSW Members (socializing event & dinner included): 30 euro

Non-OZSW members (socializing event & dinner included): 250 euro

Registration/application form

Please register here.

Cancellation and registration policy

https://www.ozsw.nl/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Appendix-5.-Registration-and-cancellation-policy_v.06.20.pdf

Organizers

Katharina Bauer, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
Maartje Schermer, Erasmus MC Rotterdam
Hub Zwart, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam

Contact info

bauer@esphil.eur.nl