Prof. Fr. Baggot and Ana Maria Ganev at the Conference “Existential Threats and Other Disasters: How Should We Address Them” – Montenegro

30-31 May 2024 the Conference “Existential Threats and Other Disasters: How Should We Address Them” was held in Montenegro. The Conference was organized by The Center for the Study of Bioethics, The Hastings Center and The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. 

Prof. Fr. Michael Baggot, LC, Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Bioethics, gave a speech about ‘Learning to Love Humans in the AI Apocalypse’ & Ana Maria Ganev, UNESCO Chair Assistant Researcher, about ‘Guided or Coerced: The Complex Ethics of Psychedelic Moral Enhancement’

Learning to Love Humans in the AI Apocalypse

Michael Baggot


What if the apocalypse looks more like the film Her than the recent Oppenheimer? Perhaps humans will avoid incinerating each other only to dupe themselves into illusory emotional, romantic, and sexual attachments to their own AI inventions. These bonds would disconnect large sectors of society from reality and rid life of the noblest human interactions. New generative AI systems could so convincingly mimic human behavior that many people will settle for ersatz responses to their deepest relational needs.

No sudden explosion would alert humanity to such existential risks. Instead, ever-more sophisticated algorithms would slowly permeate life until intimacy with AI systems becomes as commonplace as joining a social media platform. Yet the steady creep toward submission to simulations is not inevitable. There is still time to dance, sing, feast, and procreate with other human beings. There is still time to meditate, converse, and love. This paper argues that learning to love humans well in the future requires a twofold approach. First, we should relish the fleshly embodiment outside our virtual domains. Shared meals, dance, sports, and religious rituals can remind us of the joys of being animals. Second, we should rediscover the uniquely personal capacities for abstract understanding, self-reflection, judgment, and moral agency that characterize humans as odd but endearing members of the animal kingdom. Personal introspection and philosophical dialogue can reawaken us to the rich subjectivity distinguishing us from our digital devices.

Guided or Coerced: The Complex Ethics of Psychedelic Moral Enhancement

Ana Maria Ganev


Due to new technologies and the increasing destructive power of single individuals, traditional moral progress seems not up to the task anymore to prevent a societal collapse or even human extinction. Therefore, there is a recognized need for some support from non-traditional means in order to face modern challenges. A growing body of evidence suggests that a viable and practical way of achieving moral neuroenhancement is the use of psychedelic substances.

The debate around moral enhancement raises important questions about human agency, freedom, and societal risks. While some argue that moral bioenhancement would deprive people of free will or create a faux morality, others contend that compulsory, covert administration could avert catastrophes. Though disagreeing on methods, both sides recognize humanity’s moral limitations. Within this context, psychedelics come to the fore, presenting their own set of moral implications. The profound emotional and cognitive transformations induced by psychedelic experiences, when approached with careful consideration of “set” (mindset), “setting” (environment), and integration, open up new avenues for moral enhancement. Hence advocates propose psychedelics as voluntary moral aids, when other efforts fail. By altering consciousness, psychedelics unsettle notions of agency, virtue, and freedom. This paper delves into the exploration of psychedelics’ moral implications, considering whether they might serve as viable supplements for achieving moral progress. It underscores the importance of approaching them as aids rather than compulsions, thereby preserving the dignity of individual choice and autonomy while offering potential pathways toward a harmonious integration of traditional moral education and psychotherapy.

Fr. Prof. Joseph Tham at the 17th World Congress of Bioethics – Doha

On 3-6 June 2024 the World Congress of Bioethics #WCB2024 titled “Religion, Culture, and Bioethics” was held in Doha, Qatar, organized by the Research Center for Islamic Legislation & Ethics with the aim of exploring the intricate relationship between these fundamental elements. Prof. Fr. Joseph Tham, LC, Chair Reserach Scholar and Full Professor of Bioethics at the Faculty of Bioethics of the Pontifical Atheneaum Regina Apostolorum, participated in the conference with a short oral about ‘Religion, Polarisation and: A Post-Modern Critique’.

Religion, Polarisation and: A Post-Modern Critique

Joseph Tham and Allister Lee


In the contemporary milieu of bioethical discussions, religion is often suspected of being irrational, sectarian and polemical. Thus, bioethical reasoning is best performed with neutral philosophical or pragmatic methods to avoid contentions and polarizations generally perceived with religion. From its founding inspiration in the 70s, where theology plays an important role, bioethics soon turned secular, displacing theology with legal, philosophical or pragmatic approaches. At the same time, secular bioethics is sometimes inadequate and too “thin” to address the “thicker” questions of life, death, illness, well-being, mortality and immortality. With the advance of global bioethics,  can we still ignore religion? Could religious approaches enrich the bioethical conversation? How can religions engage bioethics in the globalized and public space?    In an exchange between secular philosopher Jurgen Habermas and Catholic thinker Josef Ratzinger, the late Pope Benedict XVI both acknowledged that an extremist religious view unhinged from reason would result in fundamentalism and polarization. At the same time, a solely secular approach could also reduce ethics into a battleground of the “will to power” and will not avoid polarized positions either. This paper will examine polarized positions in bioethical debates and offer a post-modern critique to enrich the dialogue between religious and secular bioethics.

Research ethics in Latin America, challenges posed by new technologies

Dr Lílian Santos, Professor of Bioethics at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolurm and Research Scholar at the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, gave a conference on May 23rd at ‘Research Land’, the largest clinical research event in Mexico, organised by APEIC.

Dr Santos presented case studies and recent news on the use of new technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9, wearable devices and chips, also considered trends such as cyborgs, DYI and biohackers, with an emphasis on their effects on clinical research ethics.

Research ethics is a constantly evolving field, especially in light of the challenges posed by new technologies. Ethics is not identifiable with technical possibility nor with the legislation of the moment. In her lecture, Dr. Lílian Santos explained the main models of bioethics (utilitarianism, principalism and personalism) along with their respective principles. She also spoke about the triangular method of bioethics, which comprises scientific data, evaluative anthropological analysis and ethical-normative elaboration.

In conclusion, research ethics requires a delicate balance between technological progress and human values. The triangular method and the principles of Personalist Bioethics provide a moral compass so that new technologies can be developed and applied in a responsible and human-friendly way.

See the full presentation here.

Prof. Fr. Michael Baggot, LC named Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC

Prof. Fr. Michael Baggot, LC, Chair Research Scholar and Assistant Professor of Faculty of Bioethics, has been named a Fellow of “Medical Ethics: Transhumanism and the Body” program at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at University of Southern California. The Institute will gather scholars in Los Angeles twice a year for two years. During the two years they will also carry out remote collaboration on research projects.