Research network “Anthropology and Ethics” at Heidelberg University
In a globalized world, scientific and technological innovations affect all cultures, but differ in the way they are absorbed, assessed and reflected. This is particularly true for progress made in life sciences, especially in the fields of genetics, cellular biology, neurobiology, prenatal and perinatal medicine, as well as palliative medicine. These advancements meet culture-specific anthropological and ethical assumptions (conceptions of man, lifestyles, living environment) with which they could conflict, but which they also influence and alter. Conversely, cultural interpretive systems have a substantial impact on the formation of theories and forms of practice in life sciences. This leads to the question of interdependencies between progress achieved in life sciences and traditional cultural worldviews:
- How do traditional cultural worldviews as well as systems of religion and ethics react to biomedical progress? To what extent are they redefined and determined by this progress?
- Conversely, to what extent are theories and practices of life sciences influenced by cultural processes of reflection?
- What kind of consequences result from such comparative investigations with regard to anthropological assumptions and normative practices in our culture?
In order to explore this urgent question by means of interdisciplinary cooperation, Heidelberg University has founded the research network “Anthropology and Ethics” within the framework of the Excellence Initiative II. It analyzes the interdependencies between progress achieved in life sciences and traditional cultural conceptions of man and the world as well as interactions between biological, anthropological, and cultural evolution, with the aim to overcome the divisions between naturalistic and cultural positions.
The research network “Anthropology and Ethics” is a cooperation of three different research facilities of Ruperto Carola: the Interdisciplinary Forum for Biomedicine and Cultural Studies (IFBK), the Research Centre for International and Interdisciplinary Theology (FIIT), and the Karl-Jaspers-Chair for Philosophical Foundations of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (Thomas Fuchs).
The research network “Anthropology and Ethics” is responsible for the Marsilius project “Embodiment as Paradigm of an Evolutionary Cultural Anthropology”, granted in 2013.