Mar 28
12:30 pm - 1:45 pm
CMEL - Lunchtime Seminar: Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religions workshops: Lessons from the past 15 years

Lunchtime Seminar

Title: Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religions workshops: Lessons from the past 15 years


Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, HKUMed
Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, HKU

Date: 28 March 2024 (Thursday)

Time: 12:30 – 1:45 pm HKT
Venue: Rm 609, 6/F, William M W Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road
Mode: In-person

Registration Link: For HKU members / For non-HKU members


This seminar explores the need for and place of input from local cultures and religious traditions when addressing the highly complex questions that frequently arise in the field of bioethics, something that is often overlooked and even questioned in much of the relevant academic literature.

It begins by examining the historical roots of religious bioethics and the secularization of the discipline before then recounting the experience of the Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Project of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights. Over the past 15 years, this Project has brought together Christians, Buddhists, Confucians, Daoists, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and secular ethicists in eight encounters to discuss bioethical topics. First, we will examine the different orientations, goals and methodological changes involved in these encounters. The meeting methodology evolves in search of possible convergence or common ground in the project. Then, we will address the most salient questions that have emerged these years. They are i) the problem of universalism vs. pluralism, which is witnessed in global bioethics vs. local diversity; ii) the East-West divide on the conception of human rights vs. duties; iii) cross-cultural and interreligious dialogue goals are framed as convergence, consensus or conversation; and iv) the ongoing issue of science and faith as different traditions confront modernity.


Globalization, bioethics, UNESCO, Human Rights, interreligious dialogue, comparative ethics, multiculturalism, religious ethics, Christian ethics, Buddhist ethics, Confucian ethics, Daoist ethics, Jewish ethics, Islamic ethics, Hindu ethics.

Fr. Joseph Tham, LC
B.Sc., M.D., B.Phil., STL, M.Be., Ph.D.
Professor, School of Bioethics, Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Italy


Fr. S. Joseph Tham was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada at the age of fifteen. At the University of Toronto, he first majored in Mathematical Sciences and then graduated from Medical School. After several years of work as a family physician, he entered the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ and was ordained a priest in 2004. As a part of this preparation, he has obtained his degrees in philosophy and theology at Rome’s Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, where he also completed his post-graduate studies in bioethics. He successfully defended his doctoral dissertation with high honours on “The Secularization of Bioethics—A Critical History” under the direction of Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, former Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics. He is former dean of the School of Bioethics in Regina Apostolorum where he presently teaches bioethics. He is a Fellow of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights.

Fr. Tham is the author and editor of numerous articles and books, including The Missing Cornerstone (2004), The Secularization of Bioethics (2007) and Bioetica al Futuro [Bioethics of the Future] (2010), Religious Perspectives on Human Vulnerability in Bioethics (2014), Religious Perspectives on Bioethics and Human Rights (2017), Sexuality, Gender and Education (2018), Religious Perspectives on Social Responsibility in Health (2018), Interreligious Perspectives on Mind, Genes and the Self (2018) and Cross-Cultural and Religious Critiques of Informed Consent (2021) (open access), and Enhancement fit for Humanity: Perspectives on Emerging Technologies (2022).


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