Coordinating Partner: Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (SCHB), 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh EH1 2LS, SCOTLAND - www.schb.org.uk
Bringing into existence new persons is a concept that has always fascinated humanity since its very origins being reflected in all the major worldviews including religious faiths. This is because the manner in which human beings have come into existence, and how they bring new beings into the world, goes to the very heart of their identity.
Until now, the new persons brought into existence have always been entirely human with a human nature and inherent human dignity. But with the development of modern science and technology the bringing into existence of new kinds of persons (which can be defined as beings who would not arise in nature but can be considered as having full inherent dignity) through novel procedures is already happening or being considered. These include, for example, the creation of:
Transhumans (Beings who have a body which is recognisably human)
(1) Human-nonhuman interspecies combinations
(2) Human-computer Cyborgs
(3) Synthetic Biological Transhumans
Posthumans (Beings who no longer have a body which is recognisably human)
(4) Virtual persons existing/living in cyber-space
(5) Synthetic Biological Posthumans
Very little has, so far, been undertaken to examine how society will respond to the creation of such new kinds of persons in the light of ethical, philosophical, anthropological and theological perspectives. Hence, the project will study the creation of these persons by considering (1) who the creators really are in the context of new technologies, (2) how these creators interact with each other (where relevant) when considering the creation of new kinds of persons, (3) the relationships these creators may have with their creatures, (4) how the new creatures, themselves, may consider their existence and the manner in which they were created, and (5) whether there is an ethical manner to bring new kinds of persons into existence?
The preparation of a 2018 workshop, 2019 conference and the writing of an edited book on creation ethics will be an exciting development in the field. Moreover, the publication of this volume drawing together the results and conclusions of the project, will be a useful tool in promoting policy guidelines and a societal discussion relating to the concept of ethically creating new kinds of persons.
The project will involve members of the SCHB, with the assistance of experts from the Centre for Bioethics and Emerging Technologies (CBET) at St Mary’s University in London together with especially invited academics.
First part of the projectJanuary 2018 – January 2019 The first part of the project will encourage research partners to seek to understand and reflect on what the terms 'creator' and ‘person’ actually represent from a historical, societal, anthropological, theological and philosophical perspective in the context of creating a person. Understanding and evaluating the concept of creating new kinds of persons from such perspectives is both urgent practically (as new technologies develop) and of great theoretical importance because it engages several fundamental issues, including those of moral status, equality and human identity. Creation and the Classical Account By beginning with the creation descriptions in classical antiquity and religious naratives as well as scientific theory on the origins of persons, the project will examine how such creation accounts have been represented in different cultures throughout history. This will include the creation perspectives of different faiths and wide ranging texts such as the Old Testament, the Upanishads and the Gilgamesh epic. Creation, Christian Theology and other Worldviews The need to position Christianity in relation to other world religions notably Judaism and Islam, has also brought about renewed interest in the theme of creation. Environmentalists, biologists, feminists and process theologians have all registered concerns from their particular standpoints, about the way the traditional doctrine of creation characterises the relationship between the cosmos and its creator. Creation in anthropology and human reproduction An anthropological perspective of the bringing into existence of purely human children may then be used to examine whether this can be of assistance in understanding how human society may understand the creation of new kinds of persons. This will be informed by the manner in which purely human reproduction is currently taking place in addition to ways in which it is being considered for the future. The study will also build on the broad array of issues connected with completely human reproduction and genetics, including genetic enhancement, through the lens of moral philosophy. Involvement of research partners:July – August 2018: Each participants will be expected to read 2-3 book of their choice from the following list or any other books proposed by them while making sure (by email) that all books are addressed by the group:
- Philip Freund, Myths of Creation, Peter Owen Publishers; Third Edition, 2003;
- Marie-Louise Von Franz, Creation Myths, Shambhala Publications Inc; Revised Edition, 2001;
- Michelle McLaughlin, Creation Myths and Tales of Origin, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2013;
- David Fergusson, Cosmos and the Creator - An Introduction to the Theology of Creation, SPCK, Reprint Edition, 1998.
- Mary Helley, David H. Guston et al. (Eds.) Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2017.
See also The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project organised by Arizona State University http://frankenstein.asu.edu/
- David DeGrazia, Creation Ethics: Reproduction, Genetics, and Quality of Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Scott A. Midson, Cyborg Theology: Humans, Technology and God, I.B. Yauris & Co., 2017.
- Jurgen Moltmann, Creating a Just Future: The Politics of Peace and Ethics of Creation in a Threatened World, SCM Press, 2012.
- Whitney Bauman, Theology, Creation, and Environmental Ethics: From Creatio Ex Nihilo to Terra Nullius, Routledge, 2014.
- Each participant would be expected to present a summary of one or two of the books which he or she has read.
- Some volunteers may begin to prepare short papers for this workshop.
- Finally the next stages of the project will also be discussed.
 E. Dahl et al., 2004. ‘Attitudes towards Preconception Sex Selection: A Representative Survey from Germany’, Reproductive BioMedicine 9, 600-603.
 J. Savulescu, 1999. ‘Sex Selection: The Case For’, The Medical Journal of Australia 171, 373-375.