My interview for BBC Worlds News on sterilisation and eugenics

On February 27, 2015 I was interviewed by David Eades of the BBC World News  to comment on the BBC story on the eugenics victims in the US who had been forcibly sterilised during the state of Virginia’s eugenics programme. More than 8,000 Virginians were operated on between the 1920s and 1970s.

IMG-20150301-WA0033When asked by David whether we should be worried about eugenics programmes today, I argued that while we often hear about the ‘resurgence’ of eugenics in the context of the selection of children’s traits with genetic technologies, we should be careful when we draw this comparison.

The negative connotation we have of eugenics today is something that we have acquired relatively recently, in the aftermath of WWII. When the term eugenics was invented by Francis Galton in 1883, it did not have a negative connotation; quite on the contrary, it was considered a duty of society to pursue the selection of “good genes”, both with negative measures (such as sterilisation laws) and with positive measures (such as support for young families).

We now think, in the Western world at least, that people have a right to ‘reproductive freedom‘ which includes when and with whom to reproduce, but  this was not the case with classical eugenics when reproductive decisions were considered a legitimate sphere of intervention of the state.

I have also argued that the use of eugenics as a word mobilises anxieties in the public, and can mask real ethical issues that we have with selection, which are different from those of the past.

You can watch the full clip of the BBC interview here. (about 4 minutes).

If you are interested in reading more about my work on eugenics, you can read her latest book, titled “From bench, to bedside, to track & field: the context of enhancement and its ethical relevance” published by the UC Medical Humanities Press in 2014. You can also listen to my recent seminar (February 4, 2015) at King’s College London on this topic here. [about 1 hour]

Bioethics seminar and Book launch (19/01/15)

I am  delighted to invite you all to a seminar by Professor Søren Holm on The seven deadly sins of bioethics – how bioethical argument can go disastrously wrong​, followed by the launch of my new book, From Bench to Bedside, to Track & Field: the Context of Enhancement and its Ethical Relevance​, recently published for the UC Medical Humanities Series, with a foreword by Professor Holm.

camporesi_cover_6x9-202x300When: Monday January 19th, 2pm to 4.30pm
Where: Room SW1.17, East Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS
RSVP here

Søren Holm is a prominent bioethicist and philosopher of medicine. He is Professor of Bioethics at the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, part of the School of Law at the University of Manchester and at the Centre for Medical Ethics at the University of Oslo.

Abstract: The seven deadly sins of bioethics – how bioethical argument can go disastrously wrong
Søren Holm has entered grumpy middle age and in this talk he will use his long experience as an academic bioethicist and journal editor to identify some of the way in which bioethical argument can go disastrously wrong. He will identify the seven deadly sins of bioethics, but will only discuss five of them in detail, partly because some of the deadly sins do not really require any in depth discussion. The bioethical equivalent of the canonical sin of ‘sloth’, i.e. lazy referencing is, for instance hardly worth any discussion, despite being extremely prevalent. The sins that will be identified, analysed and discussed are ‘simplification and reduction’, ‘unlifted bracketing’, ‘it ain’t necessarily so arguments’, ‘the irresistible attraction of the hole in one argument’, and ‘the grand leap of the whale up the Niagara falls’. In so far as it is possible, the seminar will use examples drawn from the literature on human enhancement.

Professor Brian Hurwitz will be chairing the seminar.

Tea and coffee, cookies and wines will follow.

RSVP here

Launch of Philosophy of Medicine, Ethics & Sport Series at King’s College London

The Department of Philosophy at King’s College London is launching a seminar series exploring issues at the intersection of the Philosophy of Medicine, Ethics  and Sport.

geneticmedalling_1The first speaker will be Dr. John William Devine (KCL), and he will speak on ‘Trust and Doping’.

This seminar will take place this coming Tuesday, 25 November, 5.30-7.00 p.m. in Room 508 (adjacent to the Philosophy Department Office) in the Philosophy Building, Strand Campus.  John William will present for 45 minutes, and this will be followed by 45 minutes of discussion.

The second speaker will be Dr Silvia Camporesi (KCL) on December 9th on ‘When is it ‘fair’ to be a woman’ in elite sport?’.

The speakers for 2015 will be Dr Tom Douglas (Centre for Neuroethics, Oxford University), Professor Mike McNamee (Swansea University) and Dr Emily Ryall (University of Gloucestershire). The dates will be announced shortly here.

All welcome to attend. No need to RSVP.