• The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities is based at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute. It is a collaboration between the Ethox Centre, the Oxford Neuroscience, Ethics and Society Group, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and the Wellcome Unit for History of Medicine. The Centre will conduct research on the challenges to ethics and the humanities presented by advances in neuroscience, big data, genomics and global connectedness and their convergence. The establishment of the new Centre responds to a pressing need for a robust and flexible multidisciplinary research platform in the ethics and related humanities capable of engaging successfully with new and profoundly difficult ethical and social challenges presented by the form, scale, scope and societal implications of these developments. Engaging successfully with such challenges requires a paradigm shift and a change of scale in approaches to ethics and the humanities more generally. The Centre will establish a robust research infrastructure to enable multi- disciplinary teams of medical scientists, bioethicists and researchers in the humanities and social sciences to engage with the complex ethical problems presented by developments in neuroscience, big data, genomics, and global connectedness. Through its research and engagement activities, the Centre aims to lead debate on the ethical requirements for 21st Century scientific research capable both of improving health and of commanding public trust and confidence. The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities is funded by a Wellcome Centre Grant (203132).

  • The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics is affiliated with two charities, Giving What We Can and 80, 000 Hours. The Centre strongly supports the vision and aims of these two charities. However, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics does not have any financial or administrative responsibility or oversight for these charities which are run by staff and student volunteers working independently.

  • We are involved in a collaborative project with Oxford Martin School's Programme on Mind and Machine. A key challenge for 21st century biology is to understand how the limited biophysical repertoire of individual neurons in the human brain gives rise to behaviour.The Programme on Mind and Machine will conduct research on manipulating the brain and its ethical implications.

  • We are participating in a £1.3m research project on Climate Geoengineering Governance funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The work will be led from the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, (InSIS), University of Oxford, and will also involve the Institute for Science and Ethics at Oxford together with Science and Technology Policy Research (SPRU) at the University of Sussex and the Faculty of Laws at University College London (UCL). The project aims to provide a timely basis for the governance of geoengineering through robust research on the ethical, legal, social and geopolitical implications of a range of geoengineering approaches.

  • Professor Savulescu is on the Board of Directors of The Oxford Geoengineering Programme, established to bring together expertise and research relevant to geoengineering from across the University of Oxford.  The Oxford Geoengineering Programme seeks to engage with society about the issues associated with geoengineering and conduct research into some of the proposed techniques. The programme does not advocate implementing geoengineering, but it does advocate conducting transparent research into the social, ethical and technical aspects of geoengineering. 

  • Jointly with TU Delft University we are involved in an NWO funded project Enhancing Responsibility: the effects of cognitive enhancement on moral and legal responsibility . Might some professionals – e.g. surgeons, pilots and soldiers – have a responsibility to cognitively enhance themselves, and once enhanced might they acquire greater responsibilities? The project aims to shed new light on the relationship between responsibility and mental capacity, and help professional associations, law makers, regulators and judges develop appropriate principles.



Research Projects


Established in January 2009, The Oxford Centre for Neuroethics (hosted by the Uehiro Centre) aims to address concerns about the effects neuroscience and neurotechnologies will have on various aspects of human life. Its research focuses on five key areas: cognitive enhancement; borderline consciousness and severe neurological impairment; free will, responsibility and addiction; the neuroscience of morality and decision making; applied neuroethics. See project website. ahrc60x60

Science and Religious Conflict: The past decade has seen an explosion in empirical work on moral reasoning. We are coming to understand how people's moral judgments are shaped by interactions with others in their society. There are good reasons for thinking that people's moral judgements are mostly intuitive (recent empirical work by Jonathan Haidt and his collaborators supports this view) and that people's intuitions are powerfully shaped by the institutions around them, including religious institutions. Free resources on project webpages.   

ISEThe Institute for Science and Ethics was established in June 2005 with funding from the Oxford Martin School. It is a research project based within the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Philosophy and is directed by Professor Julian Savulescu. The project has a multidisciplinary team, which includes expertise in medicine, philosophy, practical ethics, sociology and psychology. See project website.

Volkswagen StiftungThe interdisciplinary research project Intuition and Emotion in Moral Decision Making: Empirical Research and Normative Implications is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.  The project aims to elucidate the role of emotion and intuition in moral decision-making from an empirical, historical, and philosophical perspective. See project website.


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