Archive for the ‘Publications’ Category

Global Health Law: Health, Governance, and Justice

In 2015, Gratuitous self-promotion, Publications on November 9, 2015 at 9:20 am

One of the core areas of research activity within HEAL, led by me and A.M. Viens, is Public Health Ethics and Law. As a field, this embraces a huge range of issues. Some of our work is driven by particular practical areas of focus, such as Adrian’s longstanding study of stewardship and antimicrobial resistance. Other aspects of our activity are driven by theoretical concerns, such as work I’ve done asking how the question “what makes health public?” might be answered in a transnational setting. In any instance, the bringing together of legal and philosophical analyses to big, health-related challenges is central to our activity.

I am very pleased, therefore, with the release of a special issue of Health Care Analysis that I have edited. The focal point for the issue is Lawrence O. Gostin’s highly important and influential book Global Health Law (Harvard University Press, 2014). Gostin’s work in this book sets one of the most important agendas in contemporary health, ethics, and law scholarship and practice. The journal issue advances the debate with contributions that bring perspectives from law, philosophy, and economics, with a fantastic line-up of world-leading contributors: Eric Friedman and Lawrence Gostin; Norman Daniels; Jennifer Prah Ruger; Shawn Harmon; Attiya Waris and Laila Abdul Latif; Heather Widdows; and A.M. Viens.

John Coggon


In 2015, Bioethics, Gratuitous self-promotion, Publications, Reproduction on August 10, 2015 at 9:14 am

We’re delighted to flag up that Dr Natasha Hammond-Browning’s article on ‘ETHICS, EMBRYOS, AND EVIDENCE: A LOOK BACK AT WARNOCK’ has been accepted for publication in Medical Law Review, and was published online on August 1st, 2015. The article can be accessed here (subscription required).

The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, the Warnock Report, forms the basis of the UK legislation on embryo research, and its influence continues to be felt, even though over 30 years have passed since its publication. The Warnock Committee was the first of its kind to consider how advancements in human fertilisation and embryology should be regulated. This article examines the evidence submitted to the Warnock Committee, upon which its members ultimately reached their conclusions. With ongoing debate as to the status of the human embryo, it is important to recognise that the legislative position is one that was reached after extensive consultation and consideration of submitted evidence by the Warnock Committee. This article considers the differing ethical viewpoints that were expressed by organisations both prior and post-publication of the Warnock Report, and how the Committee used that evidence to reach their conclusions, and ultimately calls for a new Warnock-style committee.

Is Antimicrobial Resistance a Slowly Emerging Disaster?

In 2015, Disaster management, Gratuitous self-promotion, Public Ethics, Publications on July 10, 2015 at 9:39 am

The problem of antimicrobial resistance is so dire that people are predicting that the era of antibiotics may be coming to an end, ushering in a ‘post-antibiotic’ era. A comprehensive policy response is therefore urgently needed. A part of this response will require framing the problem in such a way that adequately reflects its nature as well as encompassing an approach that has the best prospect of success.

A.M. Viens and Jasper Littman have recently completed a paper – available freely as an open-access article in Public Health Ethics – which considers framing the problem of antimicrobial resistance as a slowly emerging disaster, including its potential benefits and difficulties, from a conceptual and policy perspective.

A.M. Viens is also a member of the University of Southampton’s new Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP). NAMRIP aims to become the first port-of-call for UK Government for the interdisciplinary approach to research and collaboration in combating the increasing resistance that microbes display to countermeasures.

A.M. Viens

Infection Control Measures and Debts of Gratitude

In 2015, Bioethics, Public Ethics, Publications on May 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

Health care workers (HCWs) returning home from Ebola-infected regions are subject to various infection control measures (ICMs), including investigative, diagnostic, and liberty-restricting measures. Public health laws justifying the use of ICMs, such as quarantine, have been invoked in recent cases involving HCWs returning home from areas affected by Ebola. In a recent commentary in the American Journal of Bioethics, Diego Silva and A.M. Viens argue that we may owe HCWs subjected to ICMs a debt of gratitude, but it is unclear what the basis of that debt is or how that debt should be paid.

The first 50 people to click here will get free access to the commentary. After the first 50 clicks, only a summary will be made available.

The Making of British Bioethics

In 2015, Bioethics, Publications on March 6, 2015 at 9:00 am

Earlier this week, Jonathan Montgomery and I met with Duncan Wilson to discuss the ‘Test Case Biographies’ project which is nearing completion (more on that in a future post). In his own words, Duncan is a ‘modern historian, whose work investigates changing notions of health, disease and morality during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’. October 2014 saw the publication of Duncan’s latest book, on ‘The Making of British Bioethics’, by MUP. Some of the thinking behind the book can be found here, and the official description is included below. Leaving aside the excellent content for a moment, the book has a fabulous retro cover, viewable here and here, and a great story behind it (if you meet Duncan ask him). MUP are asking for the sum of £25 for a hardback copy, but there is a less-well advertised free pdf version of the book, here. This is a superb resource for those interested in the modern emergence of British bioethics, and the open access option will make it especially attractive as a teaching tool/companion. (Belated-)Congratulations to Duncan on the conclusion of this particular project, and best of luck with the next one!

Description: The making of British bioethics provides the first in-depth study of how philosophers, lawyers and other ‘outsiders’ came to play a major role in discussing and helping to regulate issues that used to be left to doctors and scientists. It details how British bioethics emerged thanks to a dynamic interplay between sociopolitical concerns and the aims of specific professional groups and individuals who helped create the demand for outside involvement and transformed themselves into influential ‘ethics experts’. Highlighting this interplay helps us appreciate how issues such as embryo research and assisted dying became high-profile ‘bioethical’ concerns in the late twentieth century, and why different groups now play a critical role in developing regulatory standards and leading public debates. The book draws on a wide range of original sources and will be of interest to historians of medicine and science, general historians and bioethicists.

How and why do we value scientific freedom?

In 2014, Conferences, Gratuitous self-promotion, Publications on April 7, 2014 at 12:54 pm

With teaching over, it’s good to have a bit of time for writing and going to conferences. I’ve just got back from a trip to Rome, where I attended the third meeting of the World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research. The meeting is a key event hosted by the Luca Coscioni Association, which aims to eradicate undue bars to science and innovation. With Simona Giordano and Marco Cappato, I edited a book on Scientific Freedom following the first of these Congresses. As well as existing in hard copy, it is available here open access.

The Congress that just took place focused on the relationship between science and politics. In my own paper, I raised issues about the central place that the public interest should take in our analyses and evaluations of scientific freedom. This cuts against some of the received wisdoms amongst members of the scientific community, who are wary of the public interest (or in related literatures on the national interest). The wariness is born of concerns that the public interest will simply be given as a dogmatic, knock-down argument against good science, with no sound rationale behind it. Whilst we should be alive and responsive to such concerns, if we are to advance scientific programmes, we also need to be able to explain how these serve the public interest.

Scientific freedom is not just a ‘negative right’; a right to be left alone (and even in instances where it is, it can still impose positive claims and costs on the State and others). And really, advocates for scientific freedom are anyway asking governments not only to permit, but also to protect and indeed promote science. In doing this, we see important roles for law and regulation, providing both a shield, where defences are needed of scientific activity, and a stage, where publicity and education are needed. In my paper, I aimed to capture the reasons for this, and to explain that those in the scientific community need to understand why the public interest may at times legitimately constrain, as well as advance, science.

The event in its entirety was quite intense, with a great range of speakers and papers. Although it was built around a shared agenda, there was nevertheless a fascinating variety of perspectives. Furthermore, the span of insights afforded was astounding. Speakers included scientists and other academics, but also activists, politicians, people working in policy, journalists, and jurists. I left with a sense that many of the practical upshots of the meeting will arise as individual developments. ‘Science’ is vast and varied. But the general movement, and the added momentum that can be found when people with associated interests come together, will add to the power of such developments.

John Coggon

BMA Medical Book Awards: Commendation for Coggon!

In 2013, Gratuitous self-promotion, Public Ethics, Publications on September 23, 2013 at 7:52 am

On Tuesday 17th September 2013 the BMA Medical Book Awards were hosted in the Great Hall of the BMA. John Coggon’s book ‘What makes health public?’ was highly commended in the Health and Social Care category.

Cover   What Makes Health Public? 
The book is a critical monograph on public health and philosophy. It also works as a foundational resource for people working in or studying public health ethics. It is presented in three parts: Part I examines core concepts in public health, explaining what is meant, respectively, by ‘health’, ‘public’ and ‘the public’, ‘public health’, ‘public health policy’, and ‘public health law and ethics’. Part II explains why public health law and ethics require understanding of political philosophy, and demonstrates how political theory applies to health ethics and policy. Part III offers a presentation and defence of the author’s preferred political morality, explaining how the theory is developed and its implications for evaluations of potential and existing public health policy. It demands a reconceptualisation of mainstream bioethics, and reframes ethical analysis so that it can apply to contemporary problems in health policy and practice. Its objectives are both theoretical and practical. Public health ethics is a relatively new, and rapidly growing, area of study. As a practical, policy concern, it is also receiving much greater attention than has historically been the case. The book bridges gaps between literatures from a great range of sources, and brings together a wide span of discourses from policy, public and professional ethics, practice, and different academic disciplines. Its originality and importance come in its detailed, comprehensive analysis and definition of a new field of study, and its arguments for how the study of public health ethics is best undertaken. The book’s depth, breadth, and relevance make it stand out as an original contribution that will be of enduring relevance.

“The book’s chief strength is placing public health interventions, which are often seen as un- or a-political, firmly within a normative liberal framework, thereby exposing the value-loaded claims of a discipline that often sees itself as neutral or non-normatively scientific. The book makes a significant contribution to reflection on the normative basis of public health interventions. Nobody working in this field — the ethics and politics of public health interventions — can afford not to be familiar with it. It is excellent.”

The programme and list of awards winners can be read here.


Caroline Jones (John is far too modest to write this himself!).