Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

Next HEAL event: Extreme Body Modification: At the Limits of Individual Liberty

In 2014, Meetings on February 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

Our next HEAL event will be on Wednesday 5 March, with Sam Walker on ‘Extreme Body Modification: At the Limits of Individual Liberty’. We’ll be in room 3007/4 (Highfield), from 3-5pm. All welcome.

Abstract Body modification occupies an ambiguous place within the offences of assault. This presentation will outline the law of assault and how it relates to body modification with the aim of considering how to clarify the law on body modification activities. Initially a classification of body modification will be stated in order to provide the context in which the law of assault would apply. In this context the focus will be on assault that is intentional, causes an injury, wound or harm to a consenting adult and that is non-therapeutic. Following this the features and case law of assault will be analysed which will draw out the ambiguities of these offences and relate them to body modification. These ambiguities relate to the exceptions to assault and how they are construed in particular the concepts of ‘good reason’ and public interest. Having highlighted these issues the potential problems of trying to include body modification as an exception to the offence of assault will be discussed with a view to identifying a ‘solution’ to the equivocal status of body modification. This presentation is intended to be the initial phase of a larger and longer term research project by contextualising and identifying the relevant issues and problems.

As usual, please let Adrian know at A.M.Viens@soton.ac.uk if you wish to attend.

Bioethics: Ethics and Law of the Human Body and Body Parts

In 2014, body parts, human body, Human tissue, Organ donation on February 17, 2014 at 8:24 am

I spent my one-semester long Sabbatical (2013-2014) at the Faculty of Law, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada (TRU). TRU’s relatively new law school is an exciting place to conduct academic research, and the law school’s faculty is comprised of both established and young legal scholars who are very competent and are already making their mark in various fields of legal scholarship. In addition to the huge stock of relevant materials in their library, they have a very useful and fully-fledged e-library; the law librarian, Mrs Mary Hemmings, was very helpful to me and ensured that I got all the materials I needed for my research. The law school’s move to a new and commodious building, equipped with various teaching and research tools, ensures the comfort and resources necessary to engender useful and original research.

I was privileged to be invited to present weekly seminars on Bioethics at TRU. My seminars focused on the ethical and legal issues arising from the biotechnological utilisation of human cadavers and body parts. Particularly, we focused on the philosophical and theoretical conceptualisations of property, its application to the human body and the ethical implications of such a deployment of property theory. My seminar students were both curious and excited by the various topics I presented, and they asked many questions that heightened the interaction and conversations in class.

A colleague at TRU, Professor Ruby Dhand, kindly invited me to present a lecture to her health law class based on my recent article (Body Parts in Property Theory: An Integrated Framework (2014) 40 J Med Ethics 33) published by the JME, which was part of her lecture materials. Her students read the article and asked critical questions that showed strong engagement with the piece.

The Vice President (Academic) of TRU, together with the Faculty of Law, honoured me with an invitation to present a university-wide lecture on the ethical and legal problems surrounding separated human organs. The arrangement for this lecture could not be finalised before I left, but it is still in process.

Remi Nwabueze

Ethics, Politics, and Georgetown Public Health Law

In 2014, Gratuitous self-promotion, Public Ethics on February 10, 2014 at 11:42 am

Last week I was delighted to visit Georgetown University. In particular, it was a great pleasure to meet up with Larry Gostin in the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Larry’s work has been crucial in shaping contemporary understandings of public health law and ethics; my main areas of research. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to discuss with him my own teaching and research agendas, including the work that A.M. Viens and I are up to in HEAL developing specialist teaching in Public Health, Law, and Ethics for Southampton’s new MSc in Public Health.

The primary reason for my visit was to give an invited lecture to JD and LLM students studying public health law in Georgetown Law. The lecture was entitled “Political Theory in Public Health Ethics”. In part, it involved teaching some of the fundamentals (at least as I see them!) in bringing ethical analysis to public health practice and policy. However, my main aim was to challenge the students to consider not just the nature, but also the scope, of normative claims made in the name of public health. Having examined the necessary relationships between public health and law, I invited the students to think about two distinct modes of ‘doing’ public health ethics.

In relation to the first, we studied the work of scholars who are interested in theorising: we looked at ideas concerning conceptual coherence, normative and analytical rigour, and theoretical bounds (or lack of them) to claims made in public health ethics. The lecture surveyed some of the many different ethical theories that are brought to bear on public health, and scrutinised their bases and conclusions. As regards the second, we looked at ethics in public advocacy, referring to ideas such as ‘nudge’, ‘stewardship’, and the human right to health. Here we asked not just how robust these positions are in theory, but how robust we really want or need them to be in practice.

My hope with the class was that the students would address the very basics of whatever motivates their ideas about good practice in public health law and policy; to think about what makes health promotion desirable, or even an imperative (and what brakes there ought to be on health promotion). But I also hope that it left them thinking about the potentially distinguishable roles of academic and activist, and which (neither, either, or both) they would wish to assume, and on what terms.

John Coggon