10/20: Moral Bioprediction, Bioenhancement, and the Law – A Lecture by Julian Savulescu

DNA fingerprints.

Moral Bioprediction, Bioenhancement, and the Law:
A Lecture by Julian Savulescu
October 20, 2015 12:00 PM
Pound Hall, Room 102, Harvard Law School,
1536 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA


Increasingly, knowledge from biology and neuroscience allows us to identify biological states that are predictive but not determinative of human behavior in certain situations. These are called biomarkers of behavior. Looking at MAOA, a gene variant linked to increased criminal behavior in those who were maltreated as children, Professor Julian Savulescu will ask whether and how such behavioral biomarkers can ethically be used. Does the presence of the gene, or the presence of the gene in the right environment, affect moral or criminal responsibility? If so, does this affect the way we should respond to this group, either before or after they have committed any offence? Further into the future, could biology be modified to reduce the probability of violent offence?


  • Julian Savulescu is Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, Director of The Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and Director of The Institute for Science and Ethics, The Oxford Martin School. His areas of research include: the ethics of genetics, especially predictive genetic testing, pre implantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal testing, behavioural genetics, genetic enhancement, gene therapy; research ethics, especially ethics of embryo research, including embryonic stem cell research; new forms of reproduction, including cloning and assisted reproduction; medical ethics, including end of life decision-making, resource allocation, consent, confidentiality, decision-making involving incompetent people, and other areas; sports ethics; the analytic philosophical basis of practical ethics.  He is on the Advisory Board for the journal Neuroethics. Savulescu and Bostrom initiated the two year EU ENHANCE project, an interdisciplinary project devoted to studying the ethical implications of human enhancement and to providing detailed recommendations to European policy makers. Oxford led the cognitive enhancement theme. Savulescu is editor of two major collections on enhancement: one, co-edited with Bostrom, entitled Human Enhancement (OUP) and another draws on research from the ENHANCE project, entitled Enhancing Human Capacities (Wiley Blackwell, due for publication January 2011).Before coming to Oxford in 2002 as Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, Professor Savulescu was Director of the Ethics Program at the Murdoch Children’s Research Unit, University of Melbourne, before which he studied for a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Monash University, followed by a PhD under the supervision of Professor Peter Singer.


  • Thomas Cochrane is the Director of Neuroethics at the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. Additionally, Dr. Cochrane is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, an Associate Neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Senior Ethics Consultant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Cochrane received a combined MD and MBA from the Tufts University School of Medicine and completed his residency in neurology in the Partners Neurology program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He then completed a fellowship in neuromuscular medicine and electromyography at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He completed the Fellowship in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, and then served as a Faculty Fellow at the Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.Dr. Cochrane’s energies are primarily directed toward education, scholarship, and research in medical ethics and neurology. He teaches medical students in their course on Medical Ethics and Professionalism, and directs a Masters-level course in Neuroethics. He has given over a hundred invited lectures and presentations. Dr. Cochrane has authored dozens of peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, educational material for medical professionals, ethicists, and laypeople. He co-edited the popular neurology board review book First Aid for the Neurology Boards, and also a book on Medical Ethics and Professionalism, intended for use in training physicians and other medical providers.


  • Moderator: I. Glenn Cohen is Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School.

Join Us!

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

This lecture is part of a series of events cosponsored by the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. 


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