Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Novel Tech Ethics - Film and Panel Discussions

Novel Tech Ethics (Dalhousie University) is pleased to present two upcoming events.

Film and Panel Discussion

Wednesday, September 16, 2009—7:00PM to 9:00 PM (Doors open at 6:30PM)
Dentistry Building, Room 3156, Dalhousie University5981 University Avenue, HalifaxRefreshments provided

2. Technologically Shaping Selves: Ethics and the Pursuit of Enhancement

Erik Parens, Senior Research Scholar
The Hastings Center (Garrison, NY

Wednesday, September 23, 2009—7:30PM
Room 104, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue, Dalhousie University
Come early, seating is limited!

1. The Disappearing Male is about an important but little publicized issue facing the human species: the toxic threat to the male reproductive system. The film takes a close and disturbing look at what many doctors and researchers now suspect are responsible for many reproductive issues and other health concerns for males: a class of common chemicals that are ubiquitous in our world. Found in everything from shampoo, sunglasses, meat and dairy products, carpet, cosmetics and baby bottles, they are called "hormone mimicking" or "endocrine disrupting" chemicals and they may be starting to damage some of the most basic building blocks of human development.
Panelists: Dr. Françoise Baylis, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy, Dalhousie University; Dr. Linda Dodds, Professor and Director of Research in the Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit at Dalhousie University; Panellist TBA
The format of the panel will involve informal 7-10 minute presentations by each of the three panellists, followed by a facilitated discussion in which each panellist will have an opportunity to comment on issues raised by the audience. Sponsored by Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Population and Public Health and Institute of Gender and Health, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

2. TECHNOLOGICALLY SHAPING SELVES: At least since the publication of Peter Kramer’s book Listening to Prozac, there has been a lively public debate in the US about using medical technologies to make us “better than well.” Some critics argue that “enhancement technologies” (whether pharmacological, surgical, or genetic) threaten to alienate us from who we really are. Some enthusiasts argue that these technologies will enable us to become more fully who we really are. I will argue that critics and enthusiasts share more than they are inclined to acknowledge. Further, I will suggest that if we consider the insights on both sides more carefully, we will conclude that none of us is—or should be—comfortable on only one side.

Questions to consider:
· Do you have a “gut feeling” about whether, in general, it is good or bad to use technologies like surgery or pharmacology or genetics to enhance human traits and capacities?
· Leaving aside concerns about safety and access for the moment, what are your reasons for being for or against technological enhancement?

Erik Parens is a Senior Research Scholar at The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute in Garrison, New York. He received his BA, MA, and PHD degrees from interdisciplinary programs in the humanities at The University of Chicago. Since arriving at The Hastings Center in 1992, he has led research projects that have resulted in many publications, including 4 edited volumes: Surgically Shaping Children: Technology, Ethics, and the Pursuit of Normality (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); Wrestling with Behavioral Genetics: Science, Ethics, and Public Conversation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005); Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights (Georgetown University Press, 2000); and Enhancing Human Traits: Ethical and Social Implications (Georgetown University Press, 1998). He is currently leading one research project on the controversies surrounding the pharmacological treatment of emotional and behavioral disturbances in children and leading a second on the controversies surrounding the interpretation of neuroimages.

For more information, including directions to the Weldon Law Building, go to the “Events” page of www.noveltechethics.ca . If you would like to join the Novel Tech Ethics mailing list for notice of these and other Novel Tech Ethics public education events, please send your contact information to nte@dal.ca

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