Enhancing Understanding of Enhancement October 27-28, 2015
Belgrade, Serbia

Enhancing Understanding of Enhancement

October 27-28, 2015 - Belgrade

Center for the Study of Bioethics
In collaboration with the Hastings Center

Keynote Speakers: John Harris and Erik Parens

The Center for the Study of Bioethics and the Hastings Center are organizing in collaboration with each other an international conference “Enhancing Understanding of Enhancement”. The conference will be aimed at exploring in-depth various issues in the enhancement debate. The event will take place at the Center for the Study of Bioethics in Belgrade, on 27-28 October 2015.

In May 2013, the Center for the Study of Bioethics and the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics jointly organized the conference “Enhancement: Cognitive, Moral and Mood”. Among many excellent discussions of the world`s top bioethicists, the conference participants could also witness the debate between John Harris and Julian Savulescu (with Peter Singer as the discussant) in which they forcefully disagreed on a number of important issues, but also found some space for common ground in certain questions.

The conference “Enhancing Understanding of Enhancement” wishes to take the enhancement debate one step further than CSB did with its friends form OCN in 2013, overcoming its agonistic (sometimes perhaps even antagonistic) framework. Hence, the 2015 conference that CSB organizes in partnership with Hastings, will build on the 2013 event by further enhancing the enhancement debate. After John Harris, by many considered as the “father of enhancement”, published in 1992 his book Wonderwoman and Superman: the Ethics of Human Biotechnology, these technologies have improved substantially. The debate on enhancement has since then experienced numerous disagreements among proponents and opponents of enhancement, various perspectives being promoted on bioenhancement in general, genetically engineered enhancement, cognitive enhancement, moral enhancement… 23 later, in 2015. Erik Parens has published a book designed to overcome the agonistic for-or-against mentality of the early days of the enhancement debate: Shaping Our Selves: On Technology, Flourishing, and a Habit of Thinking. In 2015, it is difficult to imagine a better contextualization of the enhancement debate of the last 23 years than at a conference during which John Harris and Erik Parens discuss enhancement as keynote speakers. Their debate will be enriched by the participation of the world`s top in bioethics. The most relevant contemporary bioethicists will compare and contrast their views on enhancement.

As the scholars who will attend the conference are some of the most important names in the world in the enhancement debate and as this debate is one of the most relevant debates in contemporary biomedicine, the October conference in Belgrade is expected to be one of the most important scientific events of 2015.
The conference will cover various aspects of enhancement and will aim both at searching for enhanced enhancement opportunities, as well as for an enhanced understanding of the concept of enhancement, possibly initializing the departure of enhancement scholars from the agonistic framework.

Another envisioned result of the conference dialogue is a further development and clarification of various perspectives on enhancement. The enhancement debate itself will acquire additional content.

All in all, the conference will enhance the enhancement debate itself.

An outcome of the conference might be the publication of an edited volume or a journal`s special issue “Enhancing Understanding of Enhancement”. In this publication the conference participants will have the opportunity to publish the papers they presented at the conference or other texts that foster the enhancement debate.

Professor Vojin Rakić, PhD: Director of the Center for the Study of Bioethics
Professor Mildred Z. Solomon, PhD: President and CEO of the Hastings Center
Professor Erik Parens, PhD: Hastings Center
Professor John Harris, PhD: University of Manchester
Professor Michael Hauskeller, PhD: University of Exeter
Professor Anders Sandberg, PhD: Oxford University
Professor Aleksandar Damjanović: University of Belgrade
Harris Wiseman, PhD: Cambridge University