Marking the launch of a new annual conference, research and publication series, this inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary project aims to create a forum for exploring the various issues and debates which arise at the beginning of human life.
In particular, the project will seek to situate these themes within the context of the links between and implications which emerge out of the dual impact of antenatal and post-natal technologies, and the culture of progeny at all costs. The project will also attempt to assess the ethical considerations of these factors, their impact on our understanding of rights (of women, of fathers, of foetuses, of medical staff) and look boldly at the possibilities which are emerging for a future we may or may not want.
Papers, presentations, reports and workshops are invited on any of the following indicative themes:
Pre-birth Strategies: using technology to promote birth, the impact of IVF technologies, cloning, scanning, re-implantation. Pre-birth surgery; birth defect prevention; sex selection; infertility issues. The age of women giving birth. All these issues with reference to the actual processes and ethics of pre-birth strategies - who should choose, the social impact of such developments, the status and role of the consultant, specialist, doctor etc.
Termination: of pregnancies - with reference to the rights, if any, of women, of fathers, of the foetuses. Problems in developing countries of the imbalance in sex ratios due to the abortion of female foetuses. The existence of so-called 'death nurseries' in some cultures where babies of a certain gender are left to die. The impact of 'pre-knowledge' technologies on the status and gender of the baby. Designer babies.
The use of human material; the development and use of animal material. Stem cell research and other tissue research issues. Attempts to decide the question of what is living and what is dead. The development of biomedical technology. Gene therapy. Ethics of the 'spare part' industry. Whose parts are they? The growing trade in body parts - mostly among the very poor in developing countries. Organ transplantation. Organ willing. Issues surrounding patients rights and the impact of economic considerations. Why strive to keep alive?
Use of cosmetics and cosmetic surgery. The rise of health and health related models. The quest for the 'perfect body' and implications for those who are disabled. Growing developments in prosthetic technology.
Changing concepts of identity and especially the body. How has the concept of personal identity changed over the past two centuries? Shifts in our understanding of the body - the body as machine; the body as a resource for harvest; the body as manipulable.
Assessing the shape of things to come. The loss of the concept of the integrity of the person. Are we choosing our values or having them thrust on us through the momentum of available technology? Does the degree of wealth determine our choices? Is the development of ante-natal technology creating a culture of artificial needs? What is the ethics or morality lying behind the rapid development of technologies surrounding the beginning of human life? Do patients have rights to every possible treatment? Insurance companies and access to genetic material.
Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 6th June 2003. 8 page draft conference papers should be submitted by Friday 15th August 2003. Abstracts should be submitted to Dr Rob Fisher as an email attachment in Word or WordPerfect; abstracts can also be submitted in the body of the email text rather than as an attachment.
This project is the final phase of a trilogy of annual research projects run under the banner 'Making Sense Of:' Other 'Making Sense Of:' projects include 'Making Sense of Health, Illness and Disease' which was launched in June 2002, and 'Making Sense of: Dying and Death' which was launched in November 2002. It aims to create working 'encounter' groups between people of differing perspectives, disciplines, professions, and contexts. The project is to be supported by an e-mail discussion group, resource website, ISSN e-journal, and dedicated publication series.
All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be published in an ISBN eBook (with possible CD Rom support). Selected papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be published in a hard copy themed volume(s) as part of the At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries series.
For further details and information, please contact Dr Rob Fisher or visit the project website at:
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