October 17, 2008

AMHERST, Mass.—Michael Sandel, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University, and Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, opened the 2008-09 Amherst College Colloquium Series (ACCS) with a lecture titled “The Ethical Use of Biotechnology: Debating the Science of Perfecting Humans” on Friday, Oct. 17, at 4:30 p.m. The talk, which took place in Cole Assembly Room of Amherst’s Converse Hall, was free and open to the public.

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Sandel has taught political philosophy at Harvard since 1980 and is well known for his Justice course and for seminars that consider the ethical implications of a variety of biotechnological procedures and possibilities. He is the author of The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering, Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics and a number of other books. His writings have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and The New York Times.

Singer spent much of his career in Melbourne, Australia, and has been at Princeton since 1999. He has taught at the University of Oxford, La Trobe University and Monash University and served as the founding president of the International Association of Bioethics and, with Helga Kuhse, founding co-editor of the journal Bioethics. He has published many books, including Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, How Are We to Live?, Rethinking Life and Death, One World, The President of Good and Evil and The Ethics of What We Eat.

Michael Sandel (left) discusses bioethics with a group of students following the public forum.

The ACCS aims to further enrich students’ academic experiences by exploring pressing societal concerns in depth. It features renowned speakers taking divergent positions on prominent social, political and global issues. Each colloquium includes two days of lectures with world experts and culminates in a forum that is free and open to the general public. Sandel and Singer’s colloquium focused on the ethical limits of the uses of genetic engineering for human enhancement and the uses of animals for human benefit.