Lent Lecture series update

26 February 2015

Our second 2015 Lent Lecture is on Thursday March 5th, 12–1 pm.

Moot Court, Somerset House East Wing, SW1.18, Dickson Poon School of Law, Strand Campus, King’s College London.

Professor Anthea TinkerInstitute of Gerontology, Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, King’s College London

‘Some ethical issues in research on the housing of older people’

Research on housing for older people shares some ethical issues with institutional care such as the use of technology for surveillance.  But there are others which are different. These include the different living arrangements such as co-residing with family members.  Also there are good examples of older people being involved in the research process from the design of the project to the dissemination and involvement in ethics committees.  These and other issues will be discussed in this lecture.

The lecture is free and open to all.


Lent Lecture series update

15 February 2015

Our first 2015 Lent Lecture is on Tuesday February 24th, 12–1 pm.

Moot Court, Somerset House East Wing, SW1.18, Dickson Poon School of Law, Strand Campus, King’s College London.

 Professor Jonathan Herring, DM Wolfe-Clarendon Fellow in Law, University of Oxford

“Best interests under the Mental Capacity Act; Carers and Relationality”

Many older people are involved in the care of those who have lost their capacity.  Some older people have lost capacity themselves.  When someone loses capacity a decision must be made based on their own best interests.  However, the definition of best interests is notoriously opaque.  This lecture will focus on the question of how, if at all, the interests of those in caring relationships with the person who has lost capacity should be taken into account in a best interests assessment.  It will be argued that a best interest assessment must take into account the caring relationships within which the person who has lost capacity is living.   That, it will be argued, is justified under the terms of the Mental Capacity Act, most philosophical approaches to best interests, and the reality of our lives.

The lecture is free and open to all but places may be limited.

Information about the whole 2015 Lent Lecture series is available here.


Lecture: John Toulmin Lecture in Law and Psychiatry

11 February 2015

Wednesday 11 March 2015 19.00 – 20.00The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London.

This year’s lecture, ‘Equality and Coercion in Mental Health Law – Can They Ever Be Compatible?’, will be given by Rt Hon The Baroness Hale Of Richmond DBE PC LLD FBA

Lady Hale is the United Kingdom’s most senior woman judge.  She became the first, and sadly the only, woman ‘Lord of Appeal in Ordinary’ in 2004, after a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer and judge. She taught Law at Manchester University for 18 years, specialising in family and social welfare law, and also practising for a while at the Manchester Bar.

In 1984 she became the first woman to serve on the Law Commission, a statutory body which promotes the reform of the law. There she led the work of the family law team, resulting (among others) in the Children Act 1989 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. She was a founder member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and chair of its Code of Practice Committee from 1990 to 1994, when she was appointed a Judge of the Family Division of the High Court. She was promoted to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in 1999 and in 2004 to the House of Lords. This was the top court for the whole United Kingdom, until the ‘Law Lords’ became the Justices of the newly established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in 2009. She became Deputy President of the Court in 2013. She is author and co-author of a number of books, including The Family, Law and Society: Cases and Materials (6th edition 2009) and Mental Health Law (5th edition, 2010). She retains her links with the academic world as Chancellor of the University of Bristol and Visitor of Girton College. She also helped to establish the United Kingdom Association of Women Judges in 2004 and from 2010 to 2012 served as President of the International Association of Women Judges, a world wide body of both men and women judges committed to equality and human rights for all.

In order to reserve a place at the lecture please register here


Event: On Informed Consent

5 February 2015

Forum for European Philosophy Event: On Informed Consent

Monday 9 February, 6.30 – 8pm, New Theatre, East Building, London School of Economics

Onora O’Neill, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. She is also the current Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and a crossbench member of the House of Lords

Jonathan Wolff, Professor of Philosophy, University College London

Chair: Peter Dennis, LSE Fellow, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method and Forum for European Philosophy Fellow

Informed consent is not the most fundamental ethical standard, but a means of securing respect for other, more basic standards or aims. It is neither possible nor required when public goods – such as sound currency or clean air – are to be provided. Where it is possible and can be required, as in transactions with individuals, it must be tailored to their cognitive capacities. Genuine, legitimating consent is demanding, and is not achieved by the ‘tick and click’ approaches used in many commercial transactions.

This event is free and open to the public. Podcasts of most FEP events are available online after the event. Further information and podcasts can be accessed here.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #LSEethicsmatters


Report: The collection, linking and use of data in biomedical research and health care: ethical issues

4 February 2015

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published its report on The collection, linking and use of data in biomedical research and health care: ethical issues.

We are generating more data about people’s health and biology, from more sources, than ever before including GP records, hospital notes, laboratory tests, clinical trials, monitoring devices and health apps.

Advances in information technology and data science mean that it is becoming easier, cheaper and more valuable to gather, transfer, link, store and analyse these data. This offers significant opportunities to generate new knowledge, improve medical practice, increase service efficiency and drive innovation.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ report looks at the ethics of data use by considering the relationship between privacy and public interest, and how developments in data science and computing have put significant pressure on conventional approaches to information governance, including the approach of seeking consent or anonymising data for use in research.

More needs to be done to ensure that respect for participants and the protection of their data is at the centre of any initiative, through participation and accountability, backed up by good governance, and criminal penalties for the misuse of data. To marginalise individuals who provide data means risking the trust of current and future generations, exposing people to unacceptable risks, and ultimately missing out on the benefits of research.

The report sets out key ethical principles for the design and governance of data initiatives, and identifies examples of good practice relevant to anyone approaching a data initiative, such as a principal investigator in a research project, lead policy official or commissioner of services.

If you would like to receive a printed copy of the report, please email bioethics@nuffieldbioethics.org (reports are free to order on or before 10 February 2015)

To view it online or for further details go here.


PhD scholarship: Neuroethics at Monash University

29 January 2015

Closing date for expressions of interest: Friday 26 February 2015, 11:55 p.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time

A PhD scholarship, equivalent to an Australian Postgraduate Award, is available to examine treatment-induced compulsive behaviours in Parkinson’s disease. The Scholarship is provided by an Australia Research Council Discovery Early Career Award received by Dr Adrian Carter (2014-2017) entitled “Treatment-induced compulsive behaviours: Ethical and policy implications”.

Some medications can produce compulsive behaviours that challenge our understanding of decision-making and raise significant ethical questions about our control over and responsibility for our actions. Around one in five individuals receiving dopamine replacement therapy (DRT), usually for Parkinson’s disease, will develop severe compulsive behaviours or impulse control disorders (ICDs). These behaviours, which include pathological gambling, compulsive buying, hypersexuality, Internet addiction, and compulsive eating, can cause significant harm and distress to sufferers and their families. Individuals have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, homes and businesses from pathological gambling and compulsive buying, while others have developed a compulsive interest in sex that, in some cases, have resulted in criminal prosecutions. These conditions pose an imminent problem not only for these individuals, but also clinicians, judges and loved ones that deal with the consequences of these behaviours.

Very little is known about the impact that these disorders have upon those who suffer from them. Clinicians prescribe these medications with little ethical guidance, while courts make judgements on the culpability of compulsive actions in criminal cases that are minimally informed by the scientific literature. There is also little that can be done to prevent or ameliorate these behaviours other than stopping or reducing a medication that is essential to control life-threatening motor disturbances. There is therefore an urgent need to understand these conditions, the ethical and legal issues that they raise, and to develop more effective methods of minimising their occurrence or the harms that they cause.

The PhD Scholarship aims to:
1. Identify the ethical and legal issues raised by the use of dopaminergic drugs, such as DRT, that cause compulsive behaviour, and the implications they have for agency and moral responsibility.
2. Determine the impact of dopamine-induced compulsive behaviour on affected individuals, including their ability to control their behaviour, their understanding of these behaviours, and their sense of moral agency.
3. Increase knowledge and understanding of the impact of dopaminergic drugs on behaviour and decision-making

Research Plan:
These aims will be achieved using three inter-related methodologies:
1. Critical ethical and policy analysis
2. Qualitative study of affected individuals and clinicians
3. Neuropsychological assessment of persons affected by these disorders.

For further information, including remuneration package, candidate requirements, and application details go here.

Enquiries should be directed to:
Dr Adrian Carter
School of Psychological Sciences
Monash University
adrian.carter@monash.edu
Telephone: +613 9902 9431


Lecture: Nuffield Council Annual Lecture 2015

10 January 2015

‘In conversation with Dr Amy Gutmann’

The British Library Conference Centre on Tuesday 17 March at 6pm – 9pm.

This year, Dr Geoff Watts, member of Council, will host a conversation with Dr Amy Gutmann, Chair of the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, President and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Professor of Communication, University of Pennsylvania.

Under Dr Gutmann’s leadership, the Commission has advised the Obama Administration on the ethics of synthetic biology and emerging technologies; protecting research participants; whole genome sequencing; clinical research in children; incidental findings in research, clinical, and consumer settings; and neuroscience research.

A political scientist and philosopher, Dr Gutmann has authored numerous articles, essays and books and continues to teach and write on ethics and public policy, democracy and education.

The event is free and open to all but places must be booked in advance. Go here to find out more and book a place.


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