On November 17, Prof. Alberto García Gómez, Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights spoke with an opening lecture at the VI Meeting of Law Students of Arequipa: “On the right to development: challenges and achievements” organized with the Universidad Cátolica San Pablo, Faculty of Law and Political Science.
“Transforming Knowledge for a Just and Sustainable Future”: this was the theme of the 2-day meeting. The conference was also an opportunity to strengthen collaboration among members of UNESCO Chairs to foster better networking with the Organization’s various Programs.
Created in 1992, the UNITWIN/UNESCO Program represents an inter-sectoral academic network of sharing among institutions of higher or university education.
The network promotes international and inter-university cooperation.
917 UNESCO Chairs in more than 110 countries represent a unique resource of intellectual and scientific cooperation, not only globally, but also nationally and regionally.
During the assembly, therefore, the network’s achievements in these first 30 years and its future prospects were illustrated and recognized. In Italy there are 42 UNESCO Chairs, in different university locations, from the north to the south of the country, dedicated to social issues and reflecting UNESCO values.
We report that in the session entitled “UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Program: A global observatory?” “Dialogues of UNESCO Chairs” was presented.
The project was presented with a report entitled “Dialogues of UNESCO Chairs: A global laboratory of ideas” by Raimondo Cagiano de Azevedo, as spokesperson for the Italian UNESCO Chairs Network, and Patrizio Bianchi, standing in for the Secretary General of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO, Enrico Vicenti.
During the speech, the numerical results achieved by the project and the actions implemented were shown. Sobhi Tawil, Director of UNESCO’s Future of Learning and Innovation program, who moderated the session, expressed appreciation for the Italian project.
27-28 October | Prof. Alberto García Gómez- Director of the UNESCO Chair and Dean of the Faculty of Biothics and Dr. Giulia Bovassi, Associate Researcher of the UNESCO Chair participated in the X INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON BIOETHICS: LIFE IN TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY AND RESILIENCE organized by the Universidad Militar Nueva Granada.
Is global bioethics capable of promoting sustainable development in times of uncertainty and resilience? by Dr. Alberto García Gómez
Vulnerability and resilience in light of Trans and Post-humanist provocations, by Dr. Giulia Bovassi. Abstract At the dawn of a “post-pandemic” era, it is necessary to look at the future of humanity by confronting antagonistic characters of this historical moment: the radicality of vulnerability, an inseparable ally of resilience; the hybris of trans and post-humanist provocations, jointly caused by understanding vulnerability as an “accidental deficit” of human nature. The latter gives a reductionist and mechanistic ontological reading of the human being, reduced to a de-subjectified individual, whose inherent, original-by-nature dignity becomes data to be acquired according to performance parameters, vectors of a techno-mediated system of normalization and homogenization. This anxiety toward the attainment of a perfectionistic ideal is well summarized in the concept of Human Enhancement (HE), which expresses a pervasive employment of technique, no longer as an extensional tool of the human being – in order to fulfill his needs –, but as an “embodiment”, an intra-organic entity. The central postulate is that every technically possible achievement is, de facto, a matter of social justice: the indefinite expansion of what is possible becomes a meliorative asset – morally obligatory for ourselves (right) and toward society (duty) – responsible for self-evolution. For this to happen, it is necessary to constitute the human being, first by uprooting him («tabula rasa») from an ontologically given identity and, subsequently, by reprogramming him into a dynamic, disembodied, liquid, nomadic and hybrid (a symbiote, product of heterogeneous contaminations) post-human identity (homunculus). To aspire to perfection (HE) forces humanity to absorb into his culture a new «pudendum» or «Promethean shame», as Günther Anders calls it. Transdisciplinary analysis on the resulting neuro(bio)ethical and biopolitical dilemmas must start from the fundamental anthropological question: who is the human being of the «analgesic society», that aspires to become a “product” of technical power, and who he is called to be. Consequently, the danger of dissolving the virtuous alliance between vulnerability and its understanding (resilience) into an artificialization of the human being, as a technocentric response to the «malaise of uniqueness» and as an unprecedented “resolving” effort at the problem of human limit, is finally understood.
Last October 13, in the presence of authorities from Universidad Anáhuac Querétaro, Prof. Alberto Garcia, Director of the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights, established at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and the European University of Rome, Part of RIU, signed a new agreement to implent new projects with students and professors from the two institutions specifically the faculty of bioethics, medicine, science and health.
On October 6, 2022, Prof Fr. Joseph Tham, LC, participated in the Conference organized by Holy Spirit Seminary College Bioethics Resource Centre and Diocesan Bioethics Committee.
We can distinguish between somatic and germline gene editing, and then between therapy and non-therapeutic enhancement. So in effect, there will be four areas to consider.
Most people would be in favor of somatic gene editing for therapeutic purposes. This is already being applied for some people with single gene diseases. The main issues here are safety of the procedures, and fair distribution of scarce resources.
Most people are also against the use of gene editing on germline, ie, embryos or gametes, for the purpose of enhancement. This is the typical designer baby scenario where parents want their children to have special potentials like height, strength, intelligence, longevity, etc. It would be against human dignity and fairness, and has be portrayed in the novel Brave New World.
The ethics of enhancement of somatic cells is more complex. This is being proposed to make people live longer, stronger, resistant to diseases etc. It is similar to the issues of doping in sports, where some people have greater advantages than others. Other than the issue of safety, the main issue is discrimination and justice. As we see in the film GATTACA, there will be creation of classes of people with this technology.
The use of gene editing to treat germline or embryos is also problematic. At the present, there is really no need to advance this technology as the current practice is that of screening out the genetically defective embryos. Clearly, from the Catholic perspective, any use of IVF and manipulation of the embyros are unethical.