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Sarah Bianchi on Kantian Ethics for Enhancing Human Embryos

Venue: Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, 1215 Welch Road, Modular A, Conference Room.

Host:  Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics

Speaker: Sarah Bianchi, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Department of Philosophy, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany and Member Scholar of the Enhancing Life Project at the University of Chicago.

Description:  Last spring, technological development on human enhancement reached a new step. For the first time, Chinese researchers successfully changed the genetic code of a non-viable human embryo. This experiment sparked an on-going debate in particular about the ethical status of enhancing viable human embryos. In my talk, I aim to contribute a Kantian perspective to the discussion. Starting from an anthropological grounding — the relationally embedded individual — a question arises: who is responsible for potential agents such as the unborn? If “inner aspirations” enable one to enhance life, as understood through Kant's governance of the self, the question shifts as follows: who governs potential agents that are not yet able to propel their “inner aspirations” and what does enhancing life mean with respect to these unborn agents?