Seminar: Dr Francesca Minerva, "Human enhancement and allocation of public health resources"

Past Event

24 January 2012, 3:00pm - 4:30pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

This seminar series is hosted by the Future of Humanity Institute and the Institute for Science and Ethics

Speaker: Dr Francesca Minerva, Post Doc Fellow, Centre For Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne

Respondent: Alexandre Erler, Research Associate, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

Abstract: Traditionally, physicians have been concerned about curing diseases and saving human lives, but in the last fifty years the concept of health has radically changed. Still, the debate on health related issues is open and, most important thing, the way priorities are set in public health systems reflects an approach that substantively supports a difference between therapy and enhancement.

From a purely moral perspective, though, the difference between healing and enhancing is not clear and hardly justifiable through sound arguments. If what matters the most is a person’s quality of life and not the kind of treatment she needs in order to have a good life, then it is plausible that in some cases moral reasons in favour of enhancement are stronger than reasons in favour of “therapeutic” interventions.

Implications of such a change of perspective are very relevant on a practical level and therefore we need to rethink our set of priorities both in the current system of allocation of public health resources and in the debate on human enhancement.

Biography: Francesca Minerva's main area of research is practical ethics (medical ethics, the ethics of genetics, human enhancement, new form of reproduction, conflicts between secular and religious ethics).
She graduated in Philosophy (summa cum laude) from the University of Pisa and obtained a PhD in “Law, New Technologies and Bioethics” from the University of Bologna in 2010. She is a research associate at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford. She will start a post-doc at the University of Melbourne (at CAPPE) in June 2011 (McKenzie Fellowship). Her PhD thesis focused on the topic of conscientious objection in medicine. In general, She is interested in analysing the possible problems that can arise in the medical context when patients and doctors with different moral and religious values have to take important decisions about therapies needed.