gregg benjamin lecture

Pufendorf Lecture: Human Rights Guidelines for the Genetic Editing of Our Species

On the occasion of

The Fulbright Distinguished Chair Address

The Faculty of Law and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Lund University, invite you to attend the lecture.

Human Nature as Social Construct, Human Dignity as Decisional Autonomy: Human Rights Guidelines for the Genetic Editing of Our Species

When: December 7,  2021 at 1415
Where: In the Pufendorf auditorium, Tryckeriet, Lilla Gråbrödersgatan 3
By whom: Given by Professor Benjamin Gregg
What else: The lecture will be followed by refreshments

About the lecture 

The editing of the human genome will permanently alter our species biologically, in ways large and small. How might a liberal democratic community today —— marked by value pluralism and aspiring to tolerance for different normative cultures —— best regulate it?

Debates over regulation often deploy the terms human nature and human dignity. Some participants claim that genetic engineering will damage human nature or violate human dignity.

I reject the essentializing assumption behind such claims, namely that the human genome has a moral status as such. Instead I propose thinking of human nature politically, as the self-understanding of the human species in response to the question: To what kind of human nature should we aspire?

This proposal rests on a notion of human nature oriented on human rights (where human rights are understood as social constructs). I also propose dignity as the decisional autonomy of future persons, held in trust by the current generation.

This political understanding of human nature, of human dignity, and of human rights is compatible with a “soft naturalism” even as it offers a normative standard for regulating gene editing. If applied in popular deliberation combined with expert medical and bioethical opinion, it could facilitate agreement on how the decisional autonomy of future persons might be configured at the point of genetic manipulation.

benjamin gregg

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