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We need to make better humans: Professor Julian Savulescu


8 August 2007

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Professor Savulescu argues that just as parents educate and alter their children's brains with supplements such as fish oils, they should also be allowed to use radical interventions through IVF to test for conditions such as depression and neurosis.
Professor Savulescu argues that just as parents educate and alter their children's brains with supplements such as fish oils, they should also be allowed to use radical interventions through IVF to test for conditions such as depression and neurosis.

Radical new technologies such as genetic manipulation and selection should be used to "make humans better", Australian-born University of Oxford ethicist Julian Savulescu told a Sydney Ideas audience last night.

In his lecture titled "The Ethics of New Science and Human Enhancement", the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at Oxford said thata "genetic revolution" was currently taking place where new technologies such as cloning, artificial reproduction and stem cell developments, will not only treat and prevent disease but will also improve people's lives.

"We're reaching a new stage of human development where humans will be able to not just mate and alter their genes by breeding, but also by direct intervention," Professor Savulescu has said.

According to Professor Savulescu, a self-described advocate for the use of genetic testing to "select better children", the critical questions facing humans today is what limits will be set on human enhancement.

Professor Savulescu argues that just as parents educate and alter their children's brains with supplements such as fish oils, they should also be allowed to use radical interventions through IVF to test for conditions such as depression and neurosis. "Parents try to correct children's problems in everyday life," he said. "Here we will have the opportunity to do it right from the start."

In his Sydney Ideas lecture, co-presented with The Centre for Independent Studies, Professor Savulescu also controversially reiterated his support for allowing drugs in sport. In an opinion piece, published in The Sydney Morning Herald today, he wrote that a "Zero Tolerance" strategy for drugs in sport was bound to fail and argued that "changing the rules to allow safe performance enhancers" may improve the sport for the fans and athletes.

Professor Savulescu was introduced to the Sydney Ideas stage by Rob Loblay, Senior Lecture in Immunology at the University of Sydney and Chairman of the Ethics Review Committee at the Sydney South West Area Health Service.

"The War For Children's Minds" author Stephen Law at Sydney Ideas

UK-based philosopher and best-selling author Stephen Law will discuss the debate about "values" in schools and the ideas behind his book, The War for Children's Minds, in the next Sydney Ideas lecture on Tuesday, 21 August, 2007.


Contact: Katrina O’Brien

Phone: 02 9036 7842