INTRODUCTORY COURSE: Current challenges in Bioethics
What can I do? What should I do? No human action can escape these questions. The answers to them are not always clear; moral choices are often not at all easy. Complex situations arise when we face suffering or when we have to make life-or-death choices. Other cases may be difficult only because they raise new questions for which we feel unprepared.
Bioethics addresses all these questions and, with an interdisciplinary methodology that combines scientific knowledge with philosophical and theological reflections, it guides us to the right answers. This Summer Course on Introduction to Bioethics offers an overview of bioethical issues in light of the basic principles that guide our practical choices. Some examples of such choices include whether to start a therapy that could have serious consequences, what a couple may ethically do in order to have or not have a child, what we should do with frozen embryos, how we should teach young people to respect their bodies and not play around with their lives, how we should deal with homosexual tendencies, and to what extent rapid progress in science and technology—cloning, neuroscience, nanotechnology—can “improve” man.
The course will address these and other situations relevant to bioethics, with the help of multimedia materials, lectures by professors from Regina Apostolorum and other experts, and group work. Because human action is always interwoven with ethical questions, we will seek the right answers together, investigating the truth for the sake of life.
Course Coordinator: Prof. Fr. Joseph Tham
REFRESHER COURSE IN BIOETHICS: Bioethics and Consciousness: an interdisciplinary and interreligious reflection on an essential dimension of the human person
The course is organized by the Neurobioethics research group, in particular by the subgroup on consciousness, with the participation of all other subgroups and researchers of the group. The theme of consciousness is at the center of contemporary bioethics debates. At the beginning stages of human life, the absence of self-consciousness is invoked to justify depriving the human organism of the status of personhood. At the final stages of human life, it is argued that an apparently irreversible loss of the manifestations of human self-consciousness can justify the harvesting of organs as a “donation” from subjects in gravely compromised states of altered consciousness. Moreover, two tensions are widespread in neuroscientific, philosophical and social contexts. On the one hand, there are attempts at reductionism, whether in the merely neurobiological sense or in a functionalist sense. On the other hand, there have emerged many substitutionary approaches that seek to identify personal self-consciousness with mere digitizable information. Therefore, correct information and formation regarding consciousness is important.
This international summer course in bioethics proposes an interdisciplinary and interreligious study of human consciousness with the aim of understanding the plurality of meanings corresponding to the multi-layered complexity of personal dimensions of which it is composed. The course will offer its participants the chance to acquire the knowledge regarding the following areas: the state of the art of the so-called “science of consciousness” ranging from neuroscience to artificial intelligence and including quantum physics; the medical-clinical and psychiatric-psychological context; the philosophy and anthropology of consciousness; the artistic-aesthetic and theological-spiritual dimension. In this final context, special emphasis will be given to interreligious dialogue about the theme. Finally, the course will give its participants the competencies necessary to discern critically the varied contemporary contexts in which consciousness is invoked in order to evaluate critically clinical protocols, proposed laws, sanitary applications, and the political, economic and social implications of the theme.
Coordinators of the course:
Prof. Alberto Carrara: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Alberto García: email@example.com