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Lectures at Union to examine ethics of cognitive enhancement

JACKSON, Tenn.Sept. 21, 2011 – Union University will host a series of lectures beginning Sept. 22 on issues pertaining to the future of health care, specifically in the field of cognitive enhancement.

“The Future of Healthcare: Conscience, Justice, and Cognitive Enhancement” will feature two doctors from Mayo Clinic and a theology professor from Belmont Abbey College.

“Advances in medicine and technology are increasingly challenging the boundaries of therapy and enhancement for both healthcare providers and patients,” said Justin Barnard, associate dean of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship at Union, which is sponsoring the series. “If you could have a computer chip installed in your brain to improve your cognition, would you? If you were a doctor, would you provide this as a service to otherwise healthy clients? If you were required to provide it, would you refuse? ”

Barnard said new challenges such as these renew old ethical problems.

“We must begin to think carefully about these challenges in contexts like classrooms before facing life-altering decisions in the operating room,” he said.

The series begins Sept. 22, with a lecture from Grattan Brown, assistant professor of theology at Belmont Abbey College, entitled “Why Today’s Health Care Industry Needs Christian Consciences.” The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Harvey Auditorium, located in the Barefoot Student Union Building.

On Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. in Harvey Auditorium, Dr. Christopher Hook from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., will speak on “What Does Justice Have to Do With It? An Exploration of Justice in Health Care.

The series will conclude on Oct. 21, when Dr. William P. Cheshire, professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., will lecture on “Cognitive Performance-Enhancing Drugs: Neuroethics in the Mortar and Pestle.” The address will begin at 3 p.m. in Harvey Auditorium.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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