Blog: Mental health, ethics and Law at KCL

8 September 2015

For opportunities and developments in the area of mental health, ethics and law visit our new blog here.

Conference: World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics 2016

21 November 2015

14th – 17th  June 2016, Edinburgh, UK.

The International Association of Bioethics was established in 1992 and has members from across the globe and from many disciplines. The IAB is firmly committed to the open and free discussion of any and all bioethical issues and to the development of bioethics as an inclusive global discourse.

The draft programme for the 13th World Congress is already looking very exciting, and I hope to welcome you all in Edinburgh in 2016 for some days of intense intellectual engagement, meeting old and new friends, and perhaps a glass of one of the Scottish national drinks.

Professor Søren Holm, President of the International Association of Bioethics

The goal is to bring 1000+ delegates from around the world to discuss the theme, “Individuals, Public Interests and Public Goods: What is the contribution of bioethics?”, with three main strands dedicated to the academic programme, early career researcher development, and Arts & Ethics.

The call for abstracts is now open. Submit your abstract online here. Deadline for abstracts is 15th January 2016.

Registration is also open, with conference fees and other details here.

Conference: Where does it hurt? Ancient medicine in questions and answers

21 November 2015

30–31 August 2016, Leuven, Belgium. 

Call for papers

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Dr. Robert Mayhew (Seton Hall University)

Asking the right questions and obtaining the right answers is vital to modern medical healthcare. It is essential for efficient doctor-patient communication, forming an important component of medical treatment. This was no different in Antiquity. Already the Hippocratic writings give us an idea of which kinds of questions physicians asked in diagnosing their patients, and which answers they received in return (see, e.g., the case histories in the Epidemics). However, one can imagine that patients or, in case of severe illness, their relatives were often incapable of providing an accurate answer to (some of) the doctor’s questions. Galen, for instance, says that certain types of pain are actually felt by patients, but cannot be described by them when asked to (Loc. Aff. 2, 9 [8, 117 Kühn]). As such, a good doctor had to be able not simply to ask the right questions, but also to look for the right answers himself, if necessary.

The use of question-and-answer (Q&A) formulas is widely attested in ancient medical literature. By employing specific interrogative turns in their discourses, medical authors not only sought to provide practical information for proper treatment of patients, but also to amass theoretical insights about the human body and its physiological and pathological processes more generally. They dealt with several types of questions, including questions that sought to locate, define and explain certain illnesses or disorders in the body (“Where does it hurt?”, “What is it that hurts?”, ”Why does it hurt?”). Questions of this kind were common in medical treatises of the Greco-Roman period (they can be found, e.g., in medical manuals, medical papyri and collections of problemata). The popularity of the Q&A format is largely due to the fact that it became well-entrenched in the ancient medical school curriculum. Through its dialogical and interrogative structure, it provided teachers and students with a useful method to question and memorize all types of medical knowledge, both practical and theoretical. Once condensed in a textual form, it was also useful in transferring this knowledge between author and reader.

This conference aims to bring together scholars from the field of medical history and related fields (history of science, [natural] philosophy, theology, literary studies, linguistics, …) with the goal of examining the role of Q&A in medical literature, from the Hippocratic writers to Late Antiquity and its reception in the Middle Ages. The conference is open to various approaches, and aims to address – but is not restricted to – questions of content (e.g., transfer and transformation of medical knowledge in Q&A style), textuality (e.g., development from orality to written text), context (e.g., socio-intellectual relations between doctor/patient, teacher/student, author/reader), and use (e.g., theoretical contemplation vs. practical application of medical knowledge).

Please send your abstract (ca. 500 words) and a short bio (ca. 10 lines) by 15 January 2016 to Erika Gielen (Erika.Gielen[at] and Michiel Meeusen (Michiel.Meeusen[at]

Presentations should be 20 minutes in length. In your abstract, please include a clear summary of your argument and an indication of how your paper would contribute to critical reflection on the topic as a whole. Early career researchers are especially encouraged to send in an abstract. The organisers hope, but cannot promise, to be able to offer accommodation to speakers.

Seminar: Mortal remains – confronting the dead in the medical museum

19 November 2015

UCL Health Humanities Seminar

24 November, 2015, 18.00 – 19.00. 

Gemma Angel (Institute of Advanced Studies) examines how to negotiate and reconcile professional practices of dissection, preparation and display for the purposes of medical education, with the public need for appropriate and respectful disposal of the dead.

The Health Humanities seminar runs on Tuesdays 18.00 – 19.00 (with a drink afterwards). Location: IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building. All are welcome, and no registration is required.

Conference: Why we disagree about human nature

16 November 2015

Registration is now open for the conference ‘Why We Disagree about Human Nature’, to be held at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 10–11 December 2015

Is human nature something that the natural and social sciences aim to describe, or is it a pernicious fiction? What role, if any, does ‘human nature’ play in directing and informing scientific work? Can we talk about human nature without invoking—either implicitly or explicitly—a contrast with human culture? It might be tempting to think that the respectability of ‘human nature’ is an issue that divides natural and social scientists along disciplinary boundaries, but the truth is more complex. Some evolutionary theorists have enthusiastically embraced ‘human nature’, while others have rejected it. Many social scientists have explicitly rejected it, while implicitly gesturing towards universal ‘cognitive schemas’. Philosophers, meanwhile, have recently put forward a variety of suggestions for how, if at all, we might make sense of this divisive notion.
With speakers from psychology, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of medicine, social and biological anthropology, evolutionary theory, and the study of animal cognition, this conference will explore these different approaches to the concept of ‘human nature’ and attempt to uncover and understand the sources of disagreement.
Programme details:
  • Gillian Brown (St Andrews) and Kevin Laland (St Andrews): The social construction of human nature
  • Heidi Colleran (Toulouse) and Fiona Jordan (Bristol): Bridging divides in anthropology using evolutionary theory
  • Stephen Downes (Utah): Understanding the evolutionary challenges to human nature
  • John Dupré (Exeter): The nature of human processes
  • Cecilia Heyes (Oxford): The development of human nature
  • Maria Kronfeldner (Central European University): Divide and conquer: The authority of nature and why we disagree about human nature
  • Edouard Machery (Pittsburgh): A plea for human nature, redux
  • Peter J Richerson (UC Davis): What work (or mischief) does ‘human nature’ do in the work of scientists?
  • Christina Toren (St Andrews): Human ontogenies as historical processes: Lessons from ethnography
Convenors: Beth Hannon, Tim Lewens, Sam Murison

Please go here for more information and to register.

Please direct all queries to Sam Murison (sjtm3[at]

Conference: Honesty, candour and transparency – clinical implications

14 November 2015

Friday 11 March 2016, Woburn House Conference Centre, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HQ

10th Institute of Medical Ethics Education Conference

The Mid-Staffordshire scandal and the Montgomery case challenge clinicians to be candid in their dealings with patients. This is a significant development in the culture of medicine and those who teach medical ethics need to assess its implications for their own practice.

The aim of the conference is to explore the clinical implications of the professional duty of candour, which applies when things go wrong with a patient’s care, and the GMC’s more general requirement to be honest and open with patients or carers when discussing care, treatment and prognosis.

While honesty, in general, is in the best interests of patients, doctors may find these duties challenging to apply in practice. They may be concerned about the impact on their careers of complying with the duty of candour and raising concerns about patient safety. Doctors (and nurses) must at all times be honest with their patients but this can be manifested in a variety of ways that fit the situation of each patient without interfering with the clinician’s duty of care. How, therefore, do we prepare medical students effectively for the challenges which they will face, not only in the future but also now, as students, who may witness poor practice or errors that affect patient safety?

Speakers will explore legal and ethical aspects of the duties of candour and honesty, and the complexities encountered in actual clinical practice, drawing from experience in different specialties. There will be the opportunity to discuss personal ideas and experience with a focus on guiding the development and delivery of teaching on these issues. The conference will be of interest to anyone involved in teaching medical students, whether academics or clinicians. Medical students themselves are welcome.



9.45-10.00 Welcome and introduction to the conference

10.00-10.30 Daniel Sokol (Barrister and medical ethicist) – Duty of Candour: Law and Professional Guidance

10.30-11.00 Susan Bewley (Professor of Complex Obstetrics, KCL) – Honesty from the perspective of Obstetrics

11.00-11.30 David Molyneux (GP) – Honesty from the perspective of General Practice

11.30-12.00 COFFEE

12.00-12.30 Dominic Bell (Consultant, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust) – Honesty from the perspective of Intensive Care

12.30-13.00 Panel question and answers with the featured speakers

13.00-14.00 LUNCH

14.00-15.30 Open Forum session*

15.30-16.00 COFFEE

16.00-17.00 Lewis Headley Lecture – Dr Suzanne Shale

17.00-17.15 Concluding remarks


*The Open Forum session uses an imaginative technique to explore the issues raised by the conference theme, drawing on Open Space Technology discussion methods. A number of different discussion groups will form to explore the questions brought by participants relating to honesty, candour and transparency. Group participants will not be assigned in advance to a discussion group. Rather participants identify a discussion group at the start of the session that they wish to join. Participants stay with a discussion for as long as this is constructive for them and then move to a different group to explore another issue. So participants move freely around the Open Forum to explore as many or as few issues as they wish.

Questions may be prepared in advance, raised by what the morning speakers say, or generated by listening to the ideas of other participants: the important thing is that they are YOUR questions and that you are committed to discussing them. This draws on the creativity of all involved, is enjoyable, interactive and productive. You may want to adapt and adopt the Open Forum to use it in your own teaching.

Please go here for further information and to book a place.

Meeting: Medicine, Markets and Morals

14 November 2015

11-12 February 2016, Glasgow

Medicine, markets and morals (MMM) is a multi-disciplinary research network on health and social care prioritisation and funding, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), led by Dr Lucy Frith (Liverpool) and Professor Cam Donaldson (Glasgow Caledonian University).

The debate over health care funding in England is changing and the founding principles of the NHS (a free at the point of delivery, universal health service for all provided out of taxation) are being questioned. Health care funding is an issue that crosses disciplinary boundaries and this network will bring together philosophy, ethics and health care economics to explore this area.

The network will explore two main areas:

Theoretical debates over resource allocation and priority setting in health and social care. With the increasing globalisation of health care these issues cut across national boundaries and this network will locate these debates in a wider global context.

How the commissioning of services should be carried out in this new health care landscape ethically (fairly and equitably) within the given financial and policy constraints.

We plan to have a session of three short presentations from early career researchers at the Glasgow meeting. If you would like to give a short paper (15 minutes) on a related topic please send a short abstract (300 words) to Lucy Frith by 4 January 2016. Those presenting will be given a bursary to support attendance at the meeting.

A further MMM network meeting will be held in London on 26th May, 2016.

For more information go here.

Symposium: Transplantation ethics

14 November 2015

December 5th 2008, Governors Hall, St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH



Chair:  Mr Vassilios Papalois

         09.30 – 10.00       Registration and Coffee

         10.00 – 10.05       Welcome and Introduction

         10.05 – 10.35       The problem of recipient choice – Prof John Dark                                                                                                                     

         10.35 – 11.15       Directed Organ Donation – Dr Antonia Cronin

         11.15 – 11.30       Coffee

         11.30 – 12.00      Dead interests, living need – Prof John Harris

         12.00 – 12.45       Consent and Organ Donation – Prof Bobbie Farsides

         12.45 – 13.30       Lunch


                                       Chair:  Dr Antonia Cronin

         13.30 – 14.45       Clinical Case Based Work Shop

         14.45 – 15.00       Tea

         15.00 – 16.00       Question Time: Panel Discussion

         16.00                    Close of meeting

Registration Fee £20.00    

Enquiries and Registration: mrccentre[at]


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