22 December 1963 |
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|School||Analytic philosophy · Bioethics|
Julian Savulescu (born December 22, 1963) is an Australian philosopher and bioethicist. He is Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Monash University, and Head of the Melbourne–Oxford Stem Cell Collaboration, which is devoted to examining the ethical implications of cloning and embryonic stem cell research. He is the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, which is ranked as the #1 journal in bioethics worldwide by Google Scholar Metrics as of 2013. In addition to his background in applied ethics and philosophy, he also has a background in medicine and completed his MBBS (Hons) at Monash University.
Writings and ideas
In some of his publications he has argued for the following: (1) That parents have a responsibility to select the best children they could have given all of the relevant genetic information available to them, a principle that he extends to the use of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic diagnoses (PGD) in order to determine the intelligence of embryos and possible children. (2) That stem cell research is justifiable even if one accepts the view of the embryo as a person. His argument is based on the principle that killing is justified if some of those at risk of being killed stand to benefit from the killing and whether those benefits are more likely in a world in which the killing occurs. Thus, he concludes that even if embryonic stem cell research involves the killing of a person, it is justified.
Julian Savulescu also justifies the destruction of embryos and fetuses as a source of organs and tissue for transplantation to adults. In his abstract he argues, "The most publicly justifiable application of human cloning, if there is one at all, is to provide self-compatible cells or tissues for medical use, especially transplantation. Some have argued that this raises no new ethical issues above those raised by any form of embryo experimentation. I argue that this research is less morally problematic than other embryo research. Indeed, it is not merely morally permissible but morally required that we employ cloning to produce embryos or fetuses for the sake of providing cells, tissues or even organs for therapy, followed by abortion of the embryo or fetus." He argues that if it is permissible to destroy fetuses, for social reasons, or no reasons at all, it must be justifiable to destroy them to save lives.
Along with neuro-ethicist Guy Kahane, Savulescu's article "Brain Damage and the Moral Significance of Consciousness" appears to be the first mainstream publication to argue that increased evidence of consciousness in patients diagnosed with being in persistent vegetative state actually supports withdrawing or withholding care.
In 2009, Professor Savulescu presented a paper at the ’Festival of Dangerous Ideas,’ held at the Sydney Opera House in October, 2009, entitled “Unfit for Life: Genetically Enhance Humanity or Face Extinction,” which appears on Vimeo. Savulescu argues that humanity is on the brink of disappearing in a metaphorical ‘Bermuda Triangle’ unless humans are willing to undergo 'moral enhancement'.
In 2009 Professor Savulescu was awarded a 'Distinguished Alumni Award' by Monash University.
In 2009 he was also announced as the winner in the 'Thinking' category of The Australian newspaper's Emerging Leaders Awards.
He has co-authored two books: 'Medical Ethics and Law: The Core Curriculum' with Tony Hope and Judith Hendrick and 'Unfit for the Future: The Need for Moral Enhancement' (published by Oxford University Press) with Ingmar Persson.
- The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.
- The Hinxton Group: An International Consortium on Stem Cells, Ethics & Law.
- Stronger, smarter, nicer humans.
- Philosophy Bites podcast of Julian Savulescu interviewed by Nigel Warburton on the Yuk Factor.
- Bioethics, vol. 15 no. 5/6, pp. 413–25)
- Bioethics, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 508–28.
- See the Journal of Medical Ethics 25.2 (April 1999): p87
- Guy Kahane and Julian Savulescu. Brain Damage and the Moral Significance of Consciousness. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33(1):1–22, Feb. 2009