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Vermeersch in 2003
2 May 1934
Sint-Michiels, Bruges, Belgium
|Alma mater||Ghent University|
|Philosophy of science, Bioethics, Environmental philosophy, Moral philosophy, Cultural philosophy|
Etienne Vermeersch (born May 2, 1934 in Sint-Michiels (nowadays part of Bruges)) is a Belgian (moral) philosopher, skeptic, opinion maker and debater. He is one of the founding fathers of the abortion and euthanasia law in Belgium. He is also former Vice-Rector of the Ghent University.
Vermeersch became an atheist after five years with the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He broke with his belief when he was 25, like most of his colleagues at the time. Later he became a philosophical materialist. In the 1990s there was some commotion in the Belgian media when Vermeersch wrote a rational-scientific article entitled 'Why the Christian God cannot exist'.
Etienne Vermeersch has an MA in classical philology and in philosophy. In 1965 he obtained his PhD on the philosophical implications of information theory and cybernetics at Ghent University, Belgium. He became a professor at Ghent University in 1967 and taught introductory courses in philosophy and in the philosophy of science, as well as courses in 20th-century philosophy and in philosophical anthropology.
He is working on the foundations of the social sciences, on the philosophical aspects of research into informatics, on artificial intelligence, and on general social and ethical problems, mainly with regard to bioethics, environmental philosophy, and cultural philosophy.
He was a vice rector at Ghent University from 1993 until 1997. He was, among others, a member of the Flemish Board for Scientific Policy, of the governmental board of the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, of the Environmental Board of Flanders, and of the Federal Board for Scientific Policy. He was also president of the Advisory Committee of Bioethics.
Etienne Vermeersch has published about 80 articles, about 10 lemmas in the (Flemish) Encyclopaedia of World Literature, many op-ed articles in newspapers and journals, three syllabi, and six books, among which An Epistemological Introduction to the Science of Man (1967), Current Philosophy (1970), and the bestseller The Panda's Eyes: An Environmentally Philosophical Essay (1988). At his retirement the book From Antigone to Dolly (1997) was published, an edited volume containing articles spanning his entire career.
Professor Vermeersch is also a major Belgian skeptic. He is a founding member of SKEPP ('Research Society for Critical Evaluation of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal'). He has been lecturing and publishing on this topic for more than 40 years.
Vermeersch states the overpopulation of the earth as the most profound problem in the world and relates it to the problem of overconsumption. He supports the human birth control of Taiwan since 1967 and later Thailand.
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