Past Meetup

Secularism, Liberalism, and the Human Future, with Russell Blackford

This Meetup is past

59 people went

Price: £5.00 /per person

Birkbeck College

Torrington Square WC1E 7HX · London

How to find us

Room 532 is on the fifth floor of the main building

Location image of event venue


Emerging Technologies and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies.

About this talk:

Emerging and proposed technologies such as human cloning and genetic engineering have drawn a chorus of objections from politicians, pundits, and scholars. In this talk, Russell Blackford eschews the heated rhetoric that surrounds these technological developments and examines them in the context of secular and liberal thought.

Some perceive emerging technologies as challenging the values of liberal democracy. Dr Blackford argues that the challenge is not, as commonly supposed, the urgent need for strict regulatory action. Rather, the challenge is that fear of these technologies has created an atmosphere in which liberal tolerance itself is threatened. He argues that some controversial technologies would be genuinely beneficial, and that liberal democracies would demonstrate their liberal values by tolerating and accepting emerging technologies that offer prospects of human enhancement.

About the speaker:

Russell Blackford ( is a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (, Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology (, and a Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, Australia (

He is a prolific essayist, editor, and author whose works cover a range of topics including legal and political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and philosophical bioethics. Many of his published articles deal with emerging technologies, transhumanism, and the human future.

His recent books include 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists ( (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009; co-edited with Udo Schuklenk), Freedom of Religion and the Secular State ( (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 50 Great Myths About Atheism ( (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013; co-authored with Professor Schuklenk), and the forthcoming Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies (to be published by MIT Press in early 2014).

Meeting Logistics:

2pm-4pm, Saturday 9th November

Venue: Room 532, Birkbeck College (, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room 532 is on the 5th floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

Coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms (, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ

Optional pre-meeting rendezvous - please feel free to join a small number of regular London Futurist attendees at the Marlborough Arms any time from 12.30pm onwards, for general chat over a light lunch and/or drinks. To find us, look out for a table with a futurist book on it.

Covering meeting costs:

A small fee (£5) is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room costs. Please pay in advance, online.

This will be refunded if the meeting is cancelled or rearranged, or if the attendee cancels at least 3 days before the meetup.

Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment can be made in cash at the door on the day. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)

Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge - please contact the organiser, notifying us in advance of your plans to attend.