The Frontiers in Bioethics: Ethical issues in Genome-editing and Neuro-enhancement

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The Frontiers in Bioethics: Ethical issues in Genome-editing and Neuro-enhancement // Discourses of Ethics. Preprint. 13.04.2022.

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Текст поступил в редакцию 25.04.2022, принят к публикации 30.08.2022

The Frontiers in Bioethics: Ethical issues in Genome-editing and Neuro-enhancement

The Proceedings of the Workshop

St. Petersburg State University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology

On April 13, 2022 there was the online roundtable discussion "Frontiers in Bioethics: Ethical issues in Genome-editing and Neuro-enhancement" organized as a part of the University exchange programs between SPbSU and HUST (c. Wuhan). Presentations of Russian speakers were prepared on the basis of research materials of the grant № 20-011-00124 "Transformation of moral culture under the influence of neuroscience" (RFFR).

Supervisors: Vadim Yurievich Perov, Ph. SPbSU and Xiney Cheng, Prof. of School of Philosophy. The School of Philosophy, HUST.

The Vice-Dean of the School of Philosophy of HUST gave a welcome speech and thanked the participants for their interest in the topic and wished them actively discussing philosophy, bioethics, philosophy of biology, etc.

Among the main issues presented at the roundtable discussion were philosophical insights into neuroethics ( report by V.Yu. Perov "Neuroethics and contemporary bioethical challenges"); ethical problems of " human enhancement " on the pursuit of happiness (report by I. Yu. Larionov «Human Genetic and Neuro-enhancement and the Ethical Problem of Happiness»), philosophical insights into a human (report by T.V. Kovaleva "Biological, genetical and cultural basis of a man in works by K. Lorenz, E. Wilson and A. Fet"), ethical issues of Human germline genome editing (report by Ruipeng Lei "Ethical debate over human germline genome ending from Chinese perspectives"), ethical issues with hybridization (report by Xinyu Cheng "Ethical issues resulting from animal genome ending and the countermeasures"), patent protection in human genome research (report by Chunyan Wu "Thoughts on the patent protection of the inventions in the field of genome ending technology").

Russian speakers presented the papers in the first part of the conference. Perov V.Yu. showed some neuro-investigations using the example of Libet Benjamin ‘experiments on free will mechanisms and demonstrated some characteristics of the neuroscience of free will in his report. He highlighted some controversial results of modern researches such as "the results of some experiments depend on the participants' conscious belief in the existence of free will". At the end of the paper he concluded that the free moral behavior is possible under objectively natural and socially restricted conditions. I.Y. Larionov offered the thesis discussion for the audience: "It is more desirable to be artificially virtuous than to be artificially happy". The underlying idea of the presentation was the assertion that "virtue ethics is the best paradigm for ethical analysis of human improvement". The main point of the report was to address the ethical challenges of cognitive human enhancement for achievement of happiness. The report concluded with some conclusions that the cognitive enhancement is compatible with the ethical virtues associated with the concept of the good life, but one cannot replace it.

T.V. Kovaleva focused her attention on the study of human behavior and mechanisms of human interaction through the Concepts of European Scholars K. Lorenz, E. Wilson and A. Fet. She highlighted 2 dilemmas: the meaning of a human existence and whether morality can be an instinct? Like all these three scientists the speaker concludes that only culture can give the meaning of human life and partially substitutes for instinct used morality as a measure of the human co-existence in society.

In the second part of the conference Chinese speakers made their reports. Participants discussed online current issues and compare their notes and opinions.

Ruipeng Lei, in response to Jiankui He 's gene-edited babies incident, expressed her stance on providing special protection for gene-edited children. She stressed that the incident raises a number of ethical issues involving gene-edited children and their descendants. Finally, she further raised related questions: how to judge and deal with gene editing from different moral and cultural perspectives, what are the moral responsibilities for the later generations, and so on.

Xinyu Cheng focused on the ethical issues caused by animal gene editing; she argued that the ethical issues caused by animal gene editing can be viewed from two perspectives: non-anthropocentrism and anthropocentrism. She highlighted that from these two perspectives that the animal welfare and animal rights, human well-being and human rights should all be taken seriously. The report also concluded at the end that we should follow ethical principles and management recommendations, including assessment of the safety risks involved in animal gene editing, animal welfare issues in animal gene editing, food safety issues, the use of gene-edited animals, informed consent for selling gene-edited animal foods, the environmental protection and ecological balance.

Chunyan Wu focused on the interpretation of Articles 2, 5 and 25 of the Chinese Patent Law, explaining that the extent to which gene editing technology will violate social morality and damage human rights is still a controversial issue, but it has been concluded that gene editing or related experiments can be performed on the human body at what stage of development, that is, for germ cells, fertilized eggs, embryos, and complete human bodies cannot be patented, but human embryonic stem cells do not belong to this category. And finally came to the conclusion that the invention and patent issues of gene editing need to be solved jointly by ethical governance, policy guidance, legal supervision, and social participation.

All participants of the round table discussed current issues, exchanged their views and suggestions.

At the end of the scientific event the participants expressed the hope that the next roundtable meeting would permitted to approach understanding of a lot of philosophical problems and promise to continue the scientific cooperation.