MSc in Mental Health, Ethics & Law

26 March 2015

A new postgraduate course launched at King’s.

This integrated MSc is for anyone concerned with mental health who wishes to study the clinical, ethical and legal thinking behind current law, policy and clinical practice. It has been designed for health professionals, lawyers, policy makers, and all those with a relevant first degree who are keen to consider the difficult questions raised by mental ill health and society’s response. Students will be able to study alongside others from a wide range of academic and professional disciplines at the heart of London’s legal and psychiatric world.

Deadline for applications is July 1st 2015.

Further details available here.

Lecture: Public health ethics, disability and the highest attainable standard of physical, mental, and social well-being

24 April 2015

Wednesday 6th May, 13:00-14:30, K.6.63, King’s Building, Strand Campus, King’s College London.

Professor John Coggon (Professor of Law and the Philosophy of Public Health at the University of Southampton). John will present his latest work on “Public Health Ethics, Disability, and the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical, Mental, and Social Well-being” focusing on the recent convergence of literatures concerning disability, reproduction, and public health ethics. He will critically explore some of the ethical tensions raised by screening programmes, particular when these are considered as part of a public health policy agenda.

Abstract: The field of public health ethics is a now a well-established area of bioethical inquiry. It addresses important questions regarding population health and social policy, and has been welcomed by many for its emphasis on distinctive approaches and concerns, as contrasted with mainstream bioethics. However, it is would be wrong to suggest that public health ethics does not bring its own controversies. Of particular concern in this paper is the tension between ethical frameworks that allow pluralist accounts of the human good and those that suppose, and would aim to impose, a more singular idea of the good; a tension that is heightened in the context of law and public policy. There has been a growth in recent scholarship addressing these concerns with reference to policies regarding prenatal testing for disability. Using that as a case study, this paper draws out and analyses the limits of sound public health ethics. Against concerns familiar to scholars in the field of reproduction ethics, it examines the validity of policy aims, and the effect of different policy approaches. It argues that the potential force of public health ethics justifications must be carefully circumscribed if they are to have sustainable authoritative force.

For more information about the SSHM Seminar Series, please go here.

Conference: Pathologizing Body and Mind

22 April 2015

October 15-16, 2015

Leuven Philosophy of Medicine Conference 2015

The Centre for Analytic Philosophy at the University of Leuven (Belgium)

This conference will focus on the rather controversial relation between mental and physical disease. While some describe (and decry) mental illness as a social construction, other recent theories try to establish what is unique about psychopathology. Should there be two separate disease concepts, one dedicated to the mental and the other to the physical realm? Or does such a dualistic approach problematically divide up biological reality? There are also many attempts to describe disease in more general terms, regardless of where it is located in the body. Can such attempts, ranging from networks and systems theories to claims that disease is a bio-social phenomenon, provide a way to capture the similarities and distinctions between mental and physical diseases?

Confirmed keynote speakers are:
– Denny Borsboom
– Rachel Cooper
– Carl Craver
– Arantza Etxeberria
– Elselijn Kingma
– Maël Lemoine

There are 3-4 slots open for contributed papers. Each presentation will be roughly 1 hour long, with around 20 mins for the talk, 10 minutes for a respondent, and then 30 mins for discussion. There will be more emphasis on discussion since this will be a pre-read conference in which drafts of the papers are sent around to all participants before the conference begins.

If you are interested, please send a 300-500 word abstract to Jonathan Sholl ( and Markus Eronen ( The deadline for abstract submission is 30 April. The deadline for the drafts of the accepted papers will be in the end of August. After the conference, we plan to publish the papers as an edited volume.

Lecture: The genetics of mental disorders

21 April 2015

Monday May 11, 2015  18.00 – 20.30, Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, 6th Floor, King’s Building King’s College, Strand, London WC2R 2LS

The SSHM annual lecture will be given by Professor Steve Hyman, Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard)

The genetics of mental disorders: exorcising Kraepelin’s ghost

The DSM-5 treats mental disorders as if they were Ebola and not type 2 diabetes: either you have depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or schizophrenia—or you don’t. Treatment of disorders as discontinuous categories, a cardinal error of the DSM system, is not simply an arcane academic matter. The categorical approach of the DSM yields diagnostic thresholds that are rigid and entirely arbitrary. It fails to account for developmental trajectories in children that would influence the interpretation of symptoms. Among other problems this approach impedes efforts at early intervention (in contrast to how medicine treats mild type 2 diabetes or early elevations of serum lipids). Current results from epidemiology and genetics, now rapidly emerging, provide the strongest scientific arguments to date that it is time to exorcise Kraepelin’s ghost and to recognize that mental disorders are best understood in terms of quantitative deviations from health and as spectra.

For further information and to register go here.

Conference: Valuing health

21 April 2015

4th June, 2015, University College London

Valuing Health: Well-being, Freedom and Suffering

This one day conference is devoted to Dan Hausman’s newly published book Valuing Health: Well-being, Freedom and Suffering. A team of commentators, and the author himself, will address themes raised by the book, including:

  • Definitions of health, and why they matter;
  • The relationship between health and well-being;
  • The contribution of phenomenology to understanding and evaluating health states;
  • How to measure health for public policy purposes;
  • Justice in the allocation of scarce health resources.

Speakers include Dan Hausman (Wisconsin), Anna Alexandra (Cambridge), Havi Carel (Bristol),Elselijn Kingma (Southampton), Erik Nord (Norwegian Institute of Public Health), Adam Oliver (LSE), Alex Voorhoeve (LSE), and James Wilson (UCL).

This event is free. For further information and to register go here.

Rescheduled Lent Lecture: Jeff Round on ‘Caring for the incurable’

21 April 2015

Thursday May 21st, 2015, 2 – 3 pm, room 1.17 Somerset House east wing, King’s College London, Strand.

Caring for the incurable: ethics and cost-effectiveness in resource allocation decision making for people who lack capacity

A primary concern of economics is the allocation of society’s scarce resources. This is especially true in the field of health and social care. Where budgets are limited, the act of allocating resources to provide care to one individual is necessarily the act of denying those resources for caring for some other, usually unidentified, individual. This gives rise to important ethical questions. What are the objectives of the system in allocating resources? What are the mechanisms by which society determines who gets treatment? What impact do these criteria have on different groups of people? Much of economic evaluation methodology has been developed in the context of treatments intended to cure people or in some other way extend their lives. But what happens when the focus turns towards non-curative treatment? Are evaluation methodologies fit for purpose? What are the implications for efficiency and equity in a healthcare system of a one-size fits all approach to evaluation? This talk will explore how society allocates its health and social care resources to very vulnerable populations. In particular I will consider those who lack capacity and for whom cure is not the intended aim of care. I address how we allocate resources to these patients and the ethical implications of the decision making processes.

All are welcome – there is no registration process.

Conference: Genomics and genethics

17 April 2015

Aegina island, Greece, 10th-14th September 2015.

Applications close 22nd May, 2015.


‘Genomics and Genethics: current developments and controversies’

The 2015 COST Action IS1303 – CHIPME SUMMER SCHOOL is co-organised by members of the Action’s three Working Groups and which will take place in the picturesque Aegina island in Greece. The School will be an opportunity for postgraduate, postdoctoral or established researchers, as well as other suitably qualified individuals working in the relevant academic and non-academic fields, to avail of a mixture of cutting-edge lectures and interactive sessions in the following areas:

=> Translating genomic research to genomic medicine
=> Direct to consumer genetic testing: scientific, legal and ethical concerns
=> Incidental findings and informed consent
=> Genomics in developing countries
=> Genomics, markets and justice/inequality
=> Economics of genomic medicine and health technology assessment
=> Intellectual property in genomics
=> Policy-making, public engagement and genetic literacy

This School (organised by the COST Action IS1303) is open to individuals from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds (incl. scientific, health care, sociological, philosophical, bioethical, economic, journalistic and other fields) as well as individuals from both academic and non-academic backgrounds.

For full details, funding opportunities, application procedure and deadlines, please go here.

Project: Ethical issues around genome editing techniques

17 April 2015

This year, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics is starting a new project exploring the ethical issues around genome editing techniques, such as the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

In our 2012 report on the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disorders, we recognised the need for a broader public discussion of the ethics of different kinds of germline therapies.

To help define the scope of the project, the Council will be holding a workshop on 22 April with invited participants from a range of backgrounds to flesh out the most important issues and identify the main questions the Council should address with regard to genome editing.

We’ve invited participants, and any others with an interest in the topic, to each to submit up to 300 words in response to the question: What are the most important challenges raised by genome editing that the Nuffield Council on Bioethics should address? The responses will be used as the basis for the discussion at the workshop.

Read our blog by Assistant Director, Peter Mills, on the moral implications of genome editing or download the background paper by Dr Ainsley Newson and Dr Anthony Wrigley, commissioned by the Council entitled Identifying key developments, issues and questions relating to techniques of genome editing with engineered nucleases

To register your interest in the project, whether to be actively involved or simply kept informed, please email


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