Inaugural Lecture of the new initiative “Program in Medical Humanities”

Manipal Centre for Philosophy & Humanities


Kasturba Medical College, Manipal and Mangalore

Manipal University

Cordially invite you for the

Inaugural Lecture of the new initiative

“Program in Medical Humanities” at MCPH

Speaker:  Prof Alistair Campbell

Presided by: Dr K Ramnarayan, Vice Chancellor

Topic: The Uses and Abuses of the Body in Modern Medicine

Date: Friday, November 30, 2012 | Time: 4.00 pm

Venue: Interact GB Hall, Near Basic Sciences Building

Professor Alastair V Campbell is the Chen Su Lan Centennial Professor of Medical Ethics and the Director,  the Centre for Biomedical Ethics in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine of the National University of Singapore.  Previously he was Professor of Biomedical Ethics, University of Otago and then Professor of Ethics in Medicine, University of Bristol. He is a former President of the International Association of Bioethics.  He is a recipient of the HK Beecher Award, elected fellow of the Hastings Centre and elected Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His recent books include Health as Liberation (1996), Medical Ethics (with D.G. Jones and G. Gillet, 3rd Edition 2005), The Body in Bioethics (2009) and Bioethics: the Basics (in press, publication 2013). He was formerly chair of the Ethics and Governance Council of UK Biobank and Vice-Chair of the UK Retained Organs Commission. Professor Campbell is currently a member of the Bioethics Advisory Committee to the Singapore Government, of the National Medical Ethics Committee of the Ministry of Health as well as of the National Oversight Committee for Human-Animal Combinations in Stem Cell Research. He is also a Board Member of the Health Sciences Authority of Singapore and of the National Medical Research Council.


Does the body matter? Modern Western philosophy, following Descartes, has tended to see a radical distinction between the body (and its associated emotions) and the mind – the ‘ghost in a machine’ view of human nature. But this ignores our experience as embodied selves, for whom personal identity is uniquely associated with our bodily experiences. By treating the body as a mere container for the mind, we lose our moral perspective, treating our body and its parts as though they were material possessions, which we can use or dispose of at will. Eventually this can lead to seeing ourselves as no more than tradable commodities in a competitive market, in which everything has a price and nothing holds ultimate value. In this lecture I relate these moral concerns to three contentious areas in modern medical practice: organ transplantation, cosmetic medicine, and commercial surrogacy. I conclude that the risks of exploitation and loss of human value are so great that both the medical profession and national legislators need to confront these issues of the loss of human rights and devise effective means of preventing the abuses.

Contact: 0820 – 2923157


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