Stellenbosch University
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Forward with Research Impact Lecture: Prof Anton A. Van Niekerk
Start: 23/10/2019, 13:00
End: 23/10/2019, 14:00
Contact:Whitney Prins -
Location: Room 1012, ground floor - R.W. Wilcocks Building

​ Ethics and Human Enhancement Technologies: Preparing for a new future

Synopsis of the Talk:

This talk will address an important research issue that figures in the work of the Unit for Bioethics, situated in the Centre for Applied Ethics at Stellenbosch University. The author will deal with the question: Do the technological developments of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) justify us to acknowledge new forms of ethics or a radically rethinking of the nature of what we currently regard as ethics? This question is approached and discussed within the ambit of an overarching perspective in terms of which we could frame the phenomenon of the 4IR and which provides enough access to the problematic to enable us to make a few provisional remarks about the topic under discussion. This overarching perspective is the possibility and phenomenon of radical biomedical human enhancement, with the eventual prospect of the emergence of a new (post-) human species. Attention is in this respect paid to aspects such as Kurzweil’s apocalyptic, differences between robots and humans, the question and possibility of unlimited longevity, the relationship between normal and radically enhanced individuals, a moral heuristic for the slowness of nature, and the question whether human nature as such is something we ought to preserve at all cost. Some of these themes will receive attention in the talk.

Short Biography

Anton van Niekerk (MA, BTh, Lic. in Theology, DPhil. Stell) is a distinguished professor of philosophy and director of the Centre for Applied Ethics at Stellenbosch University. He is the author and editor of 20 books and more than 150 articles in accredited scientific journals. In 1995 he received the Stals Prize for Philosophy from the South African Academy of Arts and Science. He is professor at Stellenbosch since 1989, and in 2014 he was one of the first Stellenbosch academics to be appointed as distinguished professor. In 2016 he was honoured with the Chancellor’s Award for a life-long career of excellence. Stellenbosch University invited him in 2018 to postpone his retirement for another five years. He was a founder and for 14 years chair of the Board of Directors of The Ethics Institute in Pretoria. He is a former president of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa, and he was editor of the SA Journal for Philosophy for 11 years. He acted as supervisor for 27 completed PhD dissertations and for 76 Masters theses. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of the discipline of bioethics in South Africa.

RSVP: Whitney Prins - by 21 October 2019