“The natural and the artificial under the perspective of medically assisted reproductive and enhancing technologies”

Friday – Saturday – Sunday, 8-9-10 December 2017, Amphitheatre ΙΙ, basement, Aristotle University Research Dissemination Center (KEDEA), 3rd September street (the Red Building), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 546 35 Thessaloniki, Greece.

Local Organizing Committee:

  • Socrates Delivogiatzis, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Laboratory of Philosophical Research on the Imaginary, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  • Vassileios Kalliakmanis, Professor of Ethics and Pastoral, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  • Joannis N. Markopoulos, Professor of Philosophy of Technoscience in the Program of Postgraduate Studies of the Faculty of Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  • Filimon Peonidis, Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  • Miltiadis Vantsos, Assoc. Professor of Christian Ethics and Bioethics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  • Eleni Kalokairinou, Assoc. Professor of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Scholar of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Association.
  • Fereniki Panagopoulou – Koutnatzi, (Dr. J. Humboldt), Legal Auditor, Hellenic Data Protection Authority, Universities of Piraeus, Athens and Peloponnese, Scholar of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Association.

in cooperation with

  • Yiannis Demoliates, Assoc. Professor of Health and Medical Education, Unit of the Quality of Life and Death, Director of the Laboratory of Health and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina, and
  • Evangelos D. Protopapadakis, Ass. Professor of Applied Ethics, Head of the Greek Unit of the Unesco chair in Bioethics (Haifa), Director of the UoA Applied Philosophy Research Lab, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

The discovery of the double helix of DNA by the scientists James Watson and Francis Crick of the University of Cambridge in 1975, the birth of Louise Brown, the first child born by in vitro fertilization in Britain in 1978, and also the creation of Dolly by means of cloning by the scientist Ian Wilmut and his research team in Roslin Institute of Scotland in 1996, constitute chronologies – landmarks not only for the sciences of life but also for all humankind. These three achievements  have by now created the conditions so that medicine and  the sciences closely related to it can intervene in man’s creation and modification through the different kinds of enhancing technologies in such a way as to render feasible even the creation of the “post-human”, free from every natural features and limitations.

Since then new techniques have become available which promise to those who cannot or do not wish to have children in a natural way, to acquire them in other artificial ways: by medically assisted reproduction, in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, reproductive cloning. Also, a more recent technique of human reproduction has become known, multiplex parenting, according to which a child is created in vitro by employing the genetic material of one, two, three or even more couples, supposedly for his good. On the other hand, certain other philosophers visualize the artificial “enhancement” of man from a cognitive, physical, psychological and moral point of view.

As a consequence, these developments of medicine and the medical technologies and applications raise many serious questions. Aspects of human life which have been so far untouched by science, and for this reason were considered “sacred”, are now rendered object of research of the medical and genetic technologies, “are desacralized” completely, they pass, as Allen Buchanan would say, from the sphere of chance to that of choice. Of course, the health scientists and the bio-engineers who promote these technologies, they promote them, as they claim, for man’s good. However, they have not explained to us in what way and in what particular sense this gradual but complete subjection of the “natural investments” of our life (according to Ronald Dworkin’s expression) to medical sciences and technologies, in one word, to our “cultural investments” is likely to prove in the short or in the long run to humanity’s benefit. What is the benefit, that is to say, that man will have with the increasing “medicalization” of his life? And why a more medicalized society which controls our life completely (e.g. the reproduction of man) is necessarily a more “progressed” society?

Such and similar questions will be examined during the Conference. It will be good, but not necessary, if the papers can deal with issues which can fall in thematic topics and issues as the following:

  • The embryo as the fruit of union or as a product of technology. Why the question of the way in which we bring a child into the world should concern us earnestly?
  • Is indeed the embryo “a thing”? A question towards the Greek lawyers.
  • “Why I do not submit my body to the techniques of medically assisted reproduction?”: thoughts of an infertile woman.
  • Surrogate motherhood or why the female body cannot be commercialized.
  • Offering human gametes after payment: possible reactions.
  • Is our reproductive autonomy infinite, i.e. possible with every medical technology is available, or should it be defined to a great degree by thoughts which have to do with the good of the child who is to be born?
  • Is the birth of a child a lonely business or is it the result of a human relation?
  • Is there a right to reproduction with whatever technological method is available? What kind of right is this and how does it arise?
  • Why the enhancing technologies should (or should not) engage us?
  • What do we enhance with the different enhancing technologies and in relation to what?  What is the best these technologies are aiming at?
  • Is the tendency which the social Darwinists put forward towards an increasing transcendence of the natural realistic? Or do they visualize perhaps a utopia?
  • Different conceptions of the relation natural and artificial.

The themes mentioned above are indicative and in no way exhaustive. In this conference we welcome papers from experts in Bioethics, philosophers, theologians, medical people, psychologists, legal people and sociologists. Master degree or PhD students who do research in medical ethics or bioethics are strongly encouraged to participate.

To participate with a paper in the Conference fill the participation form provided here

Check the conference’ s poster here

Check/Download the conference’ s  program from here

Check/Download the participant’s abstracts (in Greek) from here

To view the conference online click here

On behalf of the Organizing Committee

Eleni Kalokairinou                                              Miltiadis Vantsos