Past conferences

– Vijfde symposium 2018; Waardigheid en medische beslissingen

– Fourth congress 2017; Next generation doctor: Prepare yourself for the challenging future of medicine

– Third congress 2015; Where is the person in personalized medicine?

– Second congress 2014;  From Persons to Products: The Commodification of the Human Body

– First congress 2013; Medicalisation and Humanization: Improving Human Nature

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Vijfde symposium

 Waardigheid en medische beslissingen



10.30 u    Welkom

11.00 u    Lezing 1: Dhr B-J Heusinkveld: ‘Het menselijk lichaam vanuit cultuurfilosofisch perspectief’

11.45 u    Lezing 2: Dr. E García: ‘Waardigheid en medische beslissingen’

12.30 u    Lunch

13.30 u    Moreel beraad

14.30 u   Film: Perfect 46

16.30 u   Filmforum

17.00 u   Einde

18.30 u   Diner – sociaal programma

Fourth congress

 Next generation doctor

Prepare yourself for the challenging future of medicine

February 4th 2017, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Changes in society and health care development make us face new challenges and ethical issues. Aging of the population in developed countries has put increasing demands on health resources and on the competences of health care professionals to give proper care.
Genetic developments introduce a new approach to treatment and prevention that alters the responsibilities and expectations of the patient and introduces novel ethical questions. The digital revolution has a profound impact on how physicians and health care delivery organizations interact with patients, replacing the face-to- face patient/doctor relation with contacts through electronic devices.
The crisis due to scarce economic resources compels to make choices about which patients will
receive treatment, limiting the access to health care for people with less income or less chances of treatment success.
During this symposium, we will deal with the impact of all these developments on the daily practice of health care professionals. We will focus on the ethical challenges arisen by these developments and on their influence on our conception of the human person and her dignity.





Third congress

 Where is the person in personalized medicine?

May 15th-16th 2015, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Personalized medicine” is one of the hottest topics in biomedicine today. It represents a paradigm shift from the traditional “one-drug-fits-all” approach in healthcare to an individual approach in which treatment is targeted on the specific characteristics of each patient.

Development in genetics make personalized medicine possible. On basis of the genetic make-up of each individual doctors can select the proper medication or therapy in the right dosis. This genetic make-up also gives relevant information to predict disease development, and influence decisions about lifestyle choices or customizes treatment to an individual.

Personalized medicine aims to respond to the needs of each person. However, it mainly focuses on the bio-molecular and genetic components of the individual body. This introduces a specific sense to the concept of ‘personalization’ in which a person is reduced to his/her genetic information.

While personalized medicine shows great potential it is challenged by philosophical, juridical, ethical and social questions, such as the meaning of patient-centeredness and patient’s autonomy, privacy and safety, the right (not) to know about your genetic constitution and its consequences for individual health risks, and equality in the distribution of treatments and drugs.

The third congress of ‘Ethics For Medics’ will reflect on the impact of the implementation of personalized medicine on our view of the patient as a person.



Second congress

 From Persons to Products:The Commodification of the Human Body

May 30th-31st 2014, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The worldwide market availability is fast approaching beyond our reach. Most material products and many services – including many emotional and intimate services (like counseling, sex, parenthood and relationship formation) – are becoming part of this worldwide market.  Also the human body has taken a place in sales; commodification of the human body. It has become an object that can be bought, traded and sold, marketed wholesale or in parts.

Nowadays there are markets for organs, reproductive tissues (ovum and sperm) and of third world children, called adoption. ´Commodification´ is the term used to describe the process of turning an object into a commodity, that is, into something that has economic value and that can be bought and sold. In many cases, commodification represents a reduction of the person (subject) tot a product (object). Under the aim of cure or research, medical and scientific professionals – especially reproductive medicine, transplant surgery and

bioethics – have been pliant partners in this accelerating commodification of human organs that are alive or dead. They have contributed to a new vision of the human person, for which the divisible body is severed from it self, and thrust into commercial transactions — as organs, secretions, reproductive capacities and tissues — responding to the commands of an incipiently global marketplace.

This second EFM congress will focus on this area and we will discuss current topics that are related to the business of the human body and its parts. The topics cover: cultural disposal and media treatment of corpses, the biopolitics of cells, sperm banks, eugenics, international trafficking of organs and the rent of wombs for surrogacy motherhood.

These topics will be highlighted from anthropology, ethics, law, medicine, and sociology to offer compelling analyses of the concrete ways in which the body is made into a commodity and how it is merchandised.

Programme 2014

Voorlopig programme 2014


     First congress                        

Medicalisation and Humanization: Improving Human Nature

The Netherlands, 10-11 May 2013 

Already, we can justifiably hold the belief that these lands of possibility exist, and that the present limitations and miserable frustrations of our existence could be in large measure surmounted.

–          Julian Huxley, New Bottles for New Wine, 1957

The human drive to better ourselves is nothing new. There is something very seductive about the idea of making ourselves stronger, fitter, more beautiful, more alert or more intelligent. For thousands of years humans have explored ways of doing these things. Physical and mental training, the use of stimulants and other mind-altering substances, even physical modification for cosmetic or religious purposes: all these have very ancient and culturally diverse roots. New today is the rapidly expanding range of possibilities for human enhancement that contemporary medicine now offers, as a direct result of our growing understanding of human physiology, biochemistry and cognition, and our increasing skills in manipulating these and other aspects of human life processes. Medicine is playing a more central role as mean for a better and more “human” life. In our Post humanistic society medicine has taken over the role of education and culture in shaping the human nature. Medical advances give us the possibility to choose and select those characteristics that make our life more livable. Preconception and prenatal testing allow us to select desirable characteristics of our descendants to assure them a happy worthy life;  genetic tests predict our risks for health threats giving us the opportunity to avoid them or at least to mitigate the symptoms or to delay their manifestations; regenerative medicine promises to extend human life; plastic surgery repairs the effects of our body and enhance our physical capacities; new technologies will enable us to overcome fundamental human limitations, eliminating aging and enhancing human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

However, using medical advances to enhance human performance, rather than to treat disease, is still controversial. As we are increasingly using new technologies to change ourselves beyond therapy and in accordance with our own desires, understanding the challenges of the new medical possibilities has become one of the most urgent topics of the current age. What are the social and ethical implications of these medical advances? What is the impact on our hold values and beliefs?

This congress aimed to contribute to such an understanding by critically examining the pros and cons of our growing ability to shape human nature through medical and technological advancements.

Abstract topic areas included among others: preconception and prenatal testing; newborn screening; genetic testing; plastic surgery; anti-aging; doping, human cloning; there is opportunity to present a lecture on more philosophical/theoretical issues i.e. human dignity; quality of life etc.

Programme Congress 10-11 May 2013

  • “Ethical aspects of clinical trials” Clemens van Ede, Medical director at Meda PHarma BV
  • “Withdrawing life-sustaining treatment” drs. B.A.A. Huisman, anaesthesist at the VU Medical Center, Amsterdam
  • Human enhancement by Luis Echarte, professor Bioethics at university of Navarra
  • “A perception about human dignity, autonomy and self- determination drs. Sander Keet, AIOS at the Kennemer Gasthuis Haarlem

Participant contributions

  •   “Medicalisation in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” by Diede Blok and Anne  Heijmer
  •  “ Right to life according to  Norbmer Hoerster” by Manuela Harder
  •  “How to proceed in the question of contraception” by Sigrid Broekaert and Katharina Hermes
  • “Whole genome sequencing”  by Carmen Alvarez and Ella van den Hout

Movie and forum discussion GATTACA

Documentary and discussion groups: ‘Human Version 2’ 


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