Archive for the ‘Meetings’ Category

HEAL Seminar Series: 4-5pm Wednesday 9 December 2015, with Matteo Bonotti speaking on ‘Food Policy, Nutritionism and Public Justification’

In 2015, Meetings on November 30, 2015 at 9:13 am

On Wednesday 9 December 2015 we will host the fifth session in the 2015-16 HEAL seminar series, with Matteo Bonotti, a Lecturer in Political Theory at Cardiff University, speaking on ‘Food Policy, Nutritionism and Public Justification’. The seminar will run from 4-5pm in room 2007/4 (Law). All welcome.

In this paper I critically assess the nutritionist approach to food that underlies health-promoting food policies such as nudges, fat taxes and food bans. My central contention is that nutritionism is a controversial conception of the good which is not suitable for justifying health-promoting food policies in societies characterized by reasonable pluralism with regard to food and health. In the first part of the paper I illustrate the main features of nutritionism and critically assess its flaws in relation to the problem of public justification. In the second part of the paper I show how nudges, fat taxes and food bans are illegitimate since the rationale for them is ultimately grounded in nutritionism. I conclude by offering suggestions for alternative health-promoting food policies which can be publicly justified in view of the fact of reasonable pluralism.

HEAL Seminar Series: 4-5pm Wednesday 25 November 2015, with Jack Clayton Thompson speaking on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want: A Gewirthian Model Of Rational Autonomy In Abortion’.

In 2015, Meetings on November 16, 2015 at 9:00 am

On Wednesday 25 November 2015 we have the fourth session in the 2015/16 HEAL seminar series, with Jack Clayton Thompson, a lecturer in Law at the University of Westminster, speaking on ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want: A Gewirthian Model Of Rational Autonomy In Abortion’. The seminar will run from 4-5pm in room 2007/4 (Law). All welcome.


The law regulating the availability of abortion is problematic both legally and morally. It is dogmatic in its requirements of women and doctors and ignorant of would-be fathers. Practically, its usage is liberal – with s1(1)(a) Abortion Act 1967 treated as a ‘catch all’ ground – it allows abortion on demand. Yet this is not reflected in the ‘law’. Against this outdated legislation I propose a model of autonomy which seeks to tether our moral concerns with a new legal approach to abortion. I do so by maintaining that a legal conception of autonomy is derivable from the categorical imperative resulting from Gewirth’s argument to the Principle of Generic Consistency: Act in accordance with the generic rights of your recipients as well as of yourself. This model of Gewirthian Rational Autonomy, I suggest, provides a guide for both public and private notions of autonomy and how our autonomous interests can be balanced across social structures in order to legitimately empower choice. I claim, ultimately, that relevant rights in the context of abortion are derivable from this model.

HEAL Seminar Series: 4-5pm Wednesday 11 November 2015, with Pamela Walsh speaking on ‘US Healthcare Reform: The Affordable Care Act and its Impact

In 2015, Meetings on November 6, 2015 at 8:00 am
On Wednesday 11 November 2015 we have the third in the 2015/16 HEAL seminar series, with Dr Pamela Walsh, Associate Professor at Eastern Michigan University speaking on  ‘US Healthcare Reform: The Affordable Care Act and its Impact’. The seminar will run from 4-5pm in room 4055 in building 4 (Law). All welcome.
This presentation will provide a brief overview of the United States’ Affordable Care Act that was enacted, March 2010.  This will include key components, such as the individual mandate, health insurance exchanges, employer plans, and funding. I will address political aspects, particularly the efforts by the US House of Representatives to overturn it and the rulings by the US Supreme to sustain it and the impact it has had to date.  

HEAL Seminar Series: today, Weds 21 October 2015, with Ben Saunders speaking on ‘Why Altruistic Donation May Be (Intrinsically) Bad’

In 2015, Meetings on October 21, 2015 at 9:16 am

Today, we have the second in the 2015/16 HEAL seminar series, with Ben Saunders, Associate Professor in Political Philosophy at Southampton, speaking on ‘Why Altruistic Donation May be (Intrinsically) Bad’, on Wednesday 21 October, 4-5pm, room 4055, building 4 (Law). All welcome.

Proposals to introduce incentives for donations, including market payments, for blood, tissues, or organs are often objected to on grounds that such donations should be altruistic.[i] If donors are primarily moved by their own benefit, rather than the recipient’s, motives are often regarded as suspect. Conversely, we usually accept altruistic (other-regarding) motives as morally innocent, even commendable.

These attitudes have recently come under attack. A number of authors have argued that donations need not be motivated by altruism in order to be morally permissible.[ii] In this paper, I question the complacent assumption that altruistic giving is always good. I argue that in some circumstances excessive altruism, or self-abnegation, may be intrinsically bad. If I am right, some altruistic acts of donation may be morally problematic.
I base my argument on Tom Hurka’s account of the relative value of self-interest and altruism.[iii] Hurka holds that, while altruism (love of others’ good) itself is always good, it may be part of a package of attitudes that is on the whole intrinsically bad, where the love of others’ good is disproportionate to the love of one’s own good. Though Hurka is concerned to show that self-abnegation is not always a vice, some cases are intrinsically bad. If this is so, then altruistic donors may be acting from intrinsically bad motives, since their disproportionate concern for the good of others may reflect a lack of concern for their own good, which is itself bad.

[i] Titmuss RM. The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy (London: Allen & Unwin, 1971),  Naqvi A and Rizvi A. Against paid organ donation. Transplantation Proceedings 2001;33:2628.
[ii] Saunders B. Altruism or solidarity? The motives for organ donation and two proposals. Bioethics 2012;26:376-81.
Moorlock G, Ives J, and Draper H. Altruism in organ donation: an unnecessary requirement? J Med Ethics 2014;40:134-8.
[iii] Hurka T. Self-interest, altruism, and virtue. Social Philosophy and Policy 1997;14:286-307.

HEAL seminar series, 30 Sept: Samantha Schnobel on ‘Tails wagging dogs and putting carts before horses: the importance of actionable damage in veterinary negligence’

In 2015, Meetings on September 28, 2015 at 2:36 pm

We are delighted to welcome Samantha Schnobel, a PhD candidate at Birmingham Law School, to lead the first HEAL seminar for 2015/16, on Wednesday 30 September, 1-2pm, room 4051, building 4 (Law). All welcome.

Samantha will be speaking on ‘Tails wagging dogs and putting carts before horses: the importance of actionable damage in veterinary negligence’.


Veterinary medicine is one of the oldest recognised professions in the United Kingdom. However, unlike their cousins in human medicine, veterinarians, on the whole, evaded the colossal shift toward external regulation and professional accountability. Due in large part to the status of animals being that of typically low-value or no-value property, veterinarians have enjoyed something of an immunity from external scrutiny, particularly in civil matters concerning allegations of professional negligence. It is submitted that a changing social climate and a profession which now, more than ever, deals with complex questions relating to medical treatment and ethics will challenge this immunity.

This, however, is perhaps putting the cart before the horse. Although I maintain that the veterinary profession will (and in many respects veterinarians already do) increasingly feel the pressure of heightened client expectations regarding the care of their animal, none of these issues will undergo legal and ethical scrutiny if claimants are unable to first evidence some form of actionable damage. The purpose of this paper, then, is to explore how the damage requirement could be modified to reflect harm suffered by a claimant-owner where the complaint involves negligence in the care and/or treatment of a companion animal. The current model adopted by the courts is to view the damage suffered as purely proprietary and damages are awarded in line with the animal’s market value. I argue this model is severely deficient. Utilising judicial and academic jurisprudence on wrongful conception claims and ownership interests in novel property scenarios, it is submitted that damage in the veterinary negligence context should be categorised as damage to sentient constitutive property. Under this model, the damage sustained by the owner-claimant corresponds to both a property element and, most importantly, an emotional harm element.

Southampton event: “Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics II: Identity and Persistence”, 18 Sept., 2015

In 2015, Meetings, Reproduction on August 31, 2015 at 9:17 am

“Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics II: Identity and Persistence”, 18 September, University of Southampton, UK.

Steinvor Arnadottir (Stirling): ‘On the Metaphysical Implications of the Part-Whole View.
Lynne Baker (Amherst): ‘A Puzzle about Pregnancy: first there is one person, then there are two.’
Victoria Browne (Oxford Brookes): ‘Aristotelean Teleology and the Philosophy of Pregnancy Loss’
Elselijn Kingma
(Southampton): ‘Budding Humans? Pregnancy & Identity’

Although philosophers have explored metaphysical questions related to pregnancy – most obviously abortion and the metaphysical status of the fetus – little philosophical attention has been paid to pregnancy itself. That is a remarkable omission because pregnancy raises important philosophical problems in metaphysics, ethics and epistemology: should the foetus be regarded as part of or ‘merely surrounded by’ the mother? If persons can be parts of other persons, what does this imply for bodily ownership and personal and numerical identity? What special rights and duties does the unique status of pregnancy bestow? Does the radically transformative character of pregnancy mean that those who have never been pregnant are excluded from certain kinds of knowledge about pregnancy and its consequences? This workshop explores the implications of pregnancy for personal identity and personal ontology.

This workshop is one of a series of four in the project Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics, Ethics & Epistemology, funded by the Southampton Ethics Centre and the University of Southampton ‘Adventures in Research’ Scheme, with added support from the British Society for Philosophy of Science and the Aristotelian Society. It was preceded by another workshop on Metaphysics, on ‘the foetus and the maternal organism’ on the 21st of July, and, prior to that, two workshops on Ethics and Epistemology on the 18th of June 2014 and the 13th of April 2015. 

Registration is free of charge, and will include tea/coffee/refreshments. Delegates must provide/ pay for their own meals; there is an option to sign up for a buffet lunch (cost: GBP 8.50) when registering via the online store:http://go.soton.ac.uk/6go
Please register by September 10th. If you would like to attend but childcare duties render your attendance difficult, please contact the organisers (as far in advance as possible).

For more information, program, accessibility information & registration, see this page.

Dr Elselijn Kingma and Dr Fiona Woollard
School of Humanities
University of Southampton

Final HEAL seminar in this academic year’s series: Elselijn Kingma speaking on “Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions”

In 2015, Best interests, Bioethics, Meetings, Reproduction on May 5, 2015 at 3:27 pm

We would like to welcome you to our last HEAL seminar in the series for the 2014-15 academic year. It will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6th at 4pm in Room 4/4053. Our speaker will be Dr. Elselijn Kingma, who will be speaking on “Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions”. Abstract below.

We hope you will also be able to join us for the inaugural HEAL Annual Lecture on Thursday, May 7th at 6pm.

Dr. Elselijn Kingma (Southampton)

Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physicical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions

ABSTRACT It is commonly asserted that pregnant women can harm their unborn child, for example by smoking or drinking alcohol. On these grounds pregnant women are increasingly not just socially, but also criminally held to task for such behaviour. In this paper I argue women cannot harm their foetuses in these particular ways. This is because the concept bringing about harm relies on a particular kind of deontological distinction that underlies both common sense morality and much of the law. This distinction is not able to accommodate the physical intertwinement and interdependence that characterises the maternal-fetal relationship. Harm-talk is therefore inappropriate, and the effects of maternal behaviour on their foetus cannot be analysed within current moral and legal frameworks.

Announcing the inaugural HEAL annual lecture: Prof. Jonathan Montgomery, ‘Bioethics as a Governance Practice’, 7 May

In 2015, Meetings on April 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

We are delighted to announce that Prof. Jonathan Montgomery (Faculty of Laws, UCL) will give the inaugural Centre for Health, Ethics and Law (HEAL) Annual Lecture. This event will be held on Thursday 7 May at 6pm in Lecture Theatre A (Nuffield Theatre, building 6), and is generously sponsored by Health Care Analysis

Jonathan will be speaking on ‘Bioethics as a Governance Practice’. 

ABSTRACT The nature and scope of bioethics has been long debated. Some see it as a descriptor of a field of study; covering topics such as research ethics, death and dying, genetics, reproductive technologies and behavioural control. Others suggest it is an academic discipline, perhaps with its roots in moral philosophy. Others still suggest that it is an academic enterprise bringing to bear a constellation of disciplines to make sense of issues in the field. The public and policy facing aspects of this work have given rise to considerable controversy over the nature and legitimacy of bioethical expertise, giving rise to ‘culture wars’ in the USA. This lecture examines the nature of bioethics as a governance practice. It explores the range of mechanisms that have been adopted for regulation, oversight and mediation of public concerns and discusses some of the implications of this movement of bioethics from academic and clinical contexts into institutions in the public square.

See further the event poster: HEAL Annual Lecture 2015.

Next HEAL seminar: Sam Walker, ‘The Sword of Damocles: Criminal Law’s Shadow Over Contemporary Body Modification Practices’, Wed 22 April 4-5pm

In 2015, Meetings on April 17, 2015 at 1:12 pm

The next HEAL Seminar will be held on Wednesday, 22 April 2015, from 4pm in Room 04/4053. Sam Walker (University of Manchester) will be speaking on The Sword of Damocles: Criminal Law’s Shadow Over Contemporary Body Modification Practices. All welcome. Any questions: please email heal@soton.ac.uk. 


I seek to demonstrate that the formal legal system is in conflict with the contemporary social practice of body modification. I will show that the social practice of body modification meets the definition of a convention as stated by David Lewis to which two attendant secondary conventions exist; one relating to the conduct of law enforcement agents and the other relating to the role of medicalisation. This leads, I will argue, to the existence of two conflicting normative systems which have only avoided conflict due to the presence of the two secondary conventions (primarily the one relating to enforcement). As a result of the potential for conflict between these two systems, due to the expansion of body modification techniques and technology, one or the other of them should be amended. I argue that the law concerning assault should be amended to explicitly permit body modification as a lawful activity.

This week’s HEAL event: Lisa Forsberg speaking on ‘Enhancement and lifestyle interventions, and the lawfulness of medical treatment’

In 2015, Bioethics, Meetings on March 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm

We’re delighted to be welcoming Lisa Forsberg to Southampton on Wednesday 18 March, to present on ‘Enhancement and lifestyle interventions, and the lawfulness of medical treatment’. Lisa’s seminar will run from 3-4pm in room 4055/4. All welcome.

Abstract ‘Enhancement’ procedures, or interventions that are claimed to go beyond the mere restoration of health, have received considerable attention in the ethics literature and in popular fora, but the law’s ability to accommodate such interventions has remained an underexplored topic. Parties to the ‘enhancement’ debate often proceed from the assumption that ‘enhancement’ either ‘should be legalised’, or should not be. However, it is not in fact the case that ‘enhancement’ interventions are not currently regulated. Moreover, intervetions would not, under the current legal regime, be unlawful on the basis that they were ‘enhancement’ interventions, that is, whether an intervention is appropriately designated as an ‘enhancement’ or a ‘treatment’ is not determinative of its lawfulness. Rather, decisions about whether an ‘enhancement’ intervention should be provided are largely delegated to the medical profession, or indeed individual physicians, to be made on an ad hoc basis, in accordance with their ‘professional judgement’. It remains unclear, however, how physicians’ ‘professional judgement’ is expected to help them arrive at answers that track morally relevant considerations. It is argued here, that in the absence of guidance regarding how and on what basis such decisions should be made, physicians’ decisions are unlikely to track morally relevant considerations, and that where this is the case, this may unjustifiably interfere with patient autonomy.