Savulescu gets major grant for neuroethics

One of the world’s most influential utilitarian philosophers has received a £800,000 grant to set up a centre at Oxford University to study the new field of neuroethics. Professor Julian Savulescu, the director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, received the grant from The Wellcome Trust. The interdisciplinary centre will focus on questions about the enhancement of cognition and mood; borderline consciousness and severe brain impairment; free will, criminal responsibility, and addiction, and the neural basis of moral decision-making.

Professor Savulescu said: “Neuroscience studies the brain and mind, and thereby some of the most profound aspects of human existence. In the last decade, advances in imaging and manipulating the brain have raised ethical challenges, particularly about the moral limits of the use of such technology, leading to the new discipline of neuroethics.

Professor Savulescu has become notorious for arguing that we should genetically enhance the human species by improving IQ, behaviour, mood, character and morality. “Biological manipulation to increase opportunity is ethical,” he once said. If we have an obligation to treat and prevent disease, we have an obligation to try to manipulate these characteristics to give an individual the best opportunity of the best life.” He has even argued that parents have a moral responsibility to select the best children they could have. It will be interesting to see what sort of ideas about brain manipulation will emerge from the well-funded new centre. ~ Oxford University

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