For the fourth and closing evening of the Bioethics Conference organized by Alliance VITA this year, the theme addressed was “Life, Under Pressure?”
The conference was opened by the philosopher and mathematician, Oliver Rey, author of “Transhumanism: Illusion and Deception” (published by Desclée de Brouwer, 2018) who spoke of the difficulties men have to adapt to the environment that mankind itself created, but which is overwhelming. Thus the scientific movement towards an enhanced, improved man: “Transhumanism is flattering for the childish fantasies of being all powerful, but it paves the way for being totally dependent. That’s why it is being supported by powerful firms which will receive giant profits from this total dependency.”
Tugdual Derville, Alliance VITA’s General Delegate, and author of “Time for Mankind” (published by Plon, 2016) described humanity as being torn apart into “four practical ideologies”: tactics based on technology, tactics against the human species, Malthusianism and eugenics. All of these ideologies make it difficult to clarify human beings’ identity, dignity, sovereignty and accountability. Caught somewhere in between animals and robots, humanity is also attacked by those who contest the population numbers or who want to impose standards of quality. To resist and counter these ideologies, Tugdual suggests 3 antidotes: search for a peaceful equilibrium with nature, a closer contact with those who are weak or vulnerable, and to be open to transcendence.
This evening’s guest witness was General Henri Marescaux, who founded the « Tamaris » association which helps both French citizens and foreigners find alternatives to prostitution. His book “The prostitutes will precede us” was published in 2018 by Mediaspaul. He described the daily ordeal to help women leave this vicious circle. He also emphasized the fact that unfortunately the laws passed in the past several years do not address the real problems, whether they involve punishing the clients, or granting French citizenship.
Blanche Streb, Alliance Vita’s Research and Training Director, and author of “Dystopia: The World of Designer Babies”, published by Artège in 2018) presented the bioethics decoder on the theme of “Ethical or Pathetical”. She treated the impact of the inappropriate use of pathos in our society. It is regularly used to justify scientific transgressions. “Life under pressure… our conscience hears this underlying murmur which shows that life depends on us, and counts on us. The cultural lines have been drawn between technology, considered as an absolute truth, and humanity’s moral responsibility.”
Caroline Roux, VITA’s Assistant General Deputy and Director of VITA International, spoke on international aid. “Ethically speaking, the main problem is placing an interpretation of Human Rights on a slippery slope towards allowing individual rights to take precedent, to the detriment of the most vulnerable and of protecting human life.” She emphasized that Alliance VITA has just been accredited by the UN’s Economic and Social Council. This will open new perspectives to cooperate and to speak up at the United Nations in favor of those who are vulnerable.
François-Xavier Pérès, as Alliance VITA’s President, gave the closing speech for this cycle of the Annual Bioethics Conference, by a call to action for those who think that life and vulnerable individuals deserve protection. Faced with unpredictable politics, and the bioethics law currently being revised, he called for participation in the upcoming national debate. “Commitment is answering to a call that is costly. A desire to commit rises from and beats in the heart. If the answer is “yes”, then we’re off for the adventure, with all the risks entailed!”
This was the closing session for this year’s innovative Bioethics Conference organized by VITA, which was exceptionally well-attended both in France and abroad.