Macquarie University Ethics and Agency Research Centre

Project: Research

Project Details


Macquarie University Ethics and Agency Research Centre is a flagship cross-disciplinary research centre that investigates ethical and legal challenges arising from scientific innovation and societal change. The Centre was established as a university research centre in 2011, with funding renewals in 2014 and 2017. Based in the Philosophy Department, it has been highly successful in fostering cross-disciplinary collaborations (local, national and international) with researchers in Law, Medicine, Cognitive Science, Biology, and Cultural Studies. The Centre ’s distinctive national profile for empirically-informed research on moral agency, ethics and applied ethics, and cognition and cultural evolution made a significant contribution to Philosophy’s outstanding results in ERA 2018 (4 for 2201, 5 for 2203). It has an excellent track record in attracting external research income (approximately $8 million since 2011), including four ARC Future Fellowships (Klein, Menary, Rogers, Sinnerbrink), as well as international funding from the Templeton Foundation. Since its establishment, CAVE has attracted seven outstanding MQRFs (Bourratt, Formosa, Hochman, Hutchison, Johnson, Tanasoca, Vincent), two of whom have been successful in obtaining DECRA fellowships (Formosa, Hochman). Four members (Kennett, Levy, Mackenzie, Sutton) have been elected Fellows of the Australian Academy of Humanities since 2011. Meyerson is Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. It supports a vibrant network of international visitors through its Distinguished Visitors Program, which has attracted 10 distinguished scholars from universities in the US, UK and Europe. Our highly visible program of conferences and workshops has attracted an additional 90 visiting scholars from universities in Australia and New Zealand, Europe, UK and US. The centre’s track record in supporting excellence in research is matched by significant research engagement with the public and end-users. This track record contributed to the Philosophy discipline’s outstanding results in the 2018 Engagement and Impact assessment for FoRC 22 (‘high’ for engagement, impact and approach to impact).Technological innovation, the expansion of scientific knowledge, and escalating rates of environmental and social change pose significant ethical and legal challenges for society. These challenges raise fundamental questions about what it means to be human in the 21st century, what kind of society we want to live in, and what regulatory mechanisms are needed to protect our human rights from potential threats arising from technological, environmental, political and social change. – Advances in AI raise fundamental ethical challenges. How can we ensure that its adoption in healthcare and social welfare supports the human rights of citizens? How can privacy be protected in a digital age? What are the social and ethical impacts of the increasing automation of work? ¬– Advances in neuroimaging, behavioural genetics, and cognitive sciences challenge the conceptual basis for traditional views of moral and criminal responsibility. How should we understand responsible agency in the wake of these advances and what are the normative and practical implications for the justice system? – Technological innovation in the biological sciences (e.g. synthetic biology) can re-engineer living organisms. How can we ensure that this kind of technological innovation is sensitive to matters of justice, human welfare and the sustainabi
Effective start/end date1/01/2031/12/22