Workshop explores ethics in the face of biotech breakthroughs

Vivien Lee

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International and local experts in bioethics are participating in a three-day workshop from 6-8 December to explore critical issues relating to human nature amid the rapid development of biotechnologies in the 21st century.

About 40 distinguished scholars in the fields of philosophy, politics and public policy from UK, US, Sweden, Hong Kong and the mainland are gathering at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) for an East-West dialogue to debate critical issues on "Human Nature and Bioethics".

The workshop is co-organised by CityU's Governance in Asia Research Centre (GARC) and Oxford University's Programme on the Ethics of the New Biosciences at their James Martin 21st Century School, Faculty of Philosophy in the UK. The event is also supported by a grant from the British Academy.

The workshop is one of CityU's dedicated events promoting intellectual exchange among leading world scholars. It also demonstrates CityU's increasingly proactive role and commitment in forward-looking and interdisciplinary research, as well as its perseverance in exploring controversial issues of immense importance to the future of humanity.

In his welcoming remarks, Professor (Chair) Roderick Wong Sue-cheun, CityU's Vice-President (Research) and Dean of Graduate Studies, said, "Hong Kong is an excellent location, and CityU provides an ideal intellectual environment, for conducting such a critical evaluation of Western and Eastern conceptions of human nature and its relevance to bioethics."

"Such a critical evaluation will offer valuable insight into how the global community should respond to these new biotechnologies, which will have huge impact on human well-being," Professor Wong added.

Advanced technologies such as human cloning, stem cell research and regenerative and enhancement medicine hold out the promise of great benefits and huge commercial profits, while raising serious concerns and

controversies in public policy, law and major fields of applied ethics, including medical, business and research ethics.

Discussions at the workshop would address human nature, its moral codes and the potentially "dehumanising" effects of biotechnological advances.

The workshop features a number of CityU academics including GARC Director Professor Julia Tao Lai Po-wah, Professor Philip Ivanhoe, Associate Professors Dr Chan Ho-mun and Dr Fan Ruiping, and Assistant Professor Dr Hektor Yan King-tak, all from the Department of Public and Social Administration.

Established in 1999, GARC is a research centre under the auspices of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of CityU. It is committed to innovative, cutting-edge research and comparative analysis of issues and dilemmas of governance in Asia.


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