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.

Online: Philosophers on the cost of pharmaceuticals

2 October 2015

Philosophers have contributed to a group post on the Daily Nous prompted by the sudden steep hikes in the price of some pharmaceuticals in the US.

  • Nicole Hassoun (Binghamton University) – New Incentive Structures for Pharmaceutical Companies Can Save Lives
  • Samia Hurst (University of Geneva) – What Justifies Pharmaceutical Profit-Making?
  • Chris MacDonald (Ryerson University) – We Lack a Clear Theory of Just Pricing
  • Jeremy Snyder (Simon Fraser University) – Why It’s Price Gouging, and why It’s Wrong
  • Marcel Verweij (Wageningen University) – Let Shkreli Pay the Price for his “Altruism”
  • Danielle Wenner (Carnegie Mellon University) – Fairness Demands More than the Absence of Coercion
  • Matt Zwolinski (University of San Diego) – OK, So Maybe Not All Price Gouging is Morally Permissible

Go here to read on: Philosophers On Drug Prices.

Conference: Biomedical Moral Enhancements in the Criminal Justice System: Ethical and Legal Aspects

2 October 2015

9th December 2015, University of Salzburg (Austria)

Deadline for abstractsFriday 30 October 2015. 

Invited speakers:

Thomas Douglas (Oxford)

Reinhard Merkel (Hamburg)

Christoph Bublitz (Hamburg)

Generous funding by the Society for Applied Philosophy and the University of Salzburg allows us to cover travel and accommodation expenses for one additional speaker. Abstracts by researchers in the early stages of their career are particularly welcome.

The debate on biomedical means to enhance human capacities has recently shifted from bodily and cognitive enhancements to a more specific aim of enhancement measures, namely to enhance humans morally, for instance through augmented empathy or reduced aggression. For such measures Tom Douglas has coined the term ‘moral enhancement’.

Both the criminal justice and the psychiatric system seem to be straightforward areas of application for moral enhancers. Traditionally, both aim at making people morally better. However, the means used to making inmates better were very different. Most importantly, for the most part at least, they did not exert direct effects on the inmates’ brains and did not aim at altering the persons’ ‘moral integrity’. The question arises whether new directly brain-altering means of biomedical moral enhancement should be used on people incarcerated in prisons and psychiatries. Their use might be more effective in preventing recidivism. It might also help to reduce prison population. However, the incarcerated are among society’s most vulnerable groups. The standards for justification are therefore particularly high.

Nevertheless, it has recently been argued that the harms of incarceration are very similar to certain non-consensual biomedical interventions aiming at making people morally better. Douglas even argued that the two are sufficiently similar to be treated alike—since incarceration is a widely accepted practice, non-consensual biomedical interventions on inmates should also be accepted.

The workshop engages with this argument and with other ethical and legal aspects of the use of biomedical enhancements in the criminal justice system, especially concerning the boundaries for the use of such measures. We aim at deepening the discussion by bringing Tom Douglas together with scholars from criminal law, legal philosophy, and ethics.

We invite submissions of abstracts of up to 500 words.

DeadlineFriday 30 October 2015. Please send abstracts to Norbert.paulo[at]

Seminar: Placebo-Controlled Surgical Trials

25 September 2015

Philosophy and Medicine event

1 October 2015 – 18:30-20:00

K2.31, King’s Building, Strand, King’s College London

LectureDavid Beard, Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford
Comment: David Papineau, Professor of Philosophy, King’s College London

All are welcome.

KCL/UCL Joint Bioethics Colloquium programme

22 September 2015

The timetable for the 2015/16 program for the Joint Bioethics Colloquium has been announced. As always, the talks run from 4.00 – 5.30pm on Thursdays. Locations for talks will be confirmed soon.

8 October 2015 – Benedict Rumbold (UCL), “Why biomedical moral enhancements will always constitute a counsel of despair

5 November 2015  Annette Rid (UCL): “The ethics of conducting research during an epidemic: lessons from Ebola”

3 December 2015 – Jillian Craigie (KCL): “Problems of control: How should we think about the impact of alcohol dependence on personal and criminal responsibility?”

4 February 2016 – Bronwyn Parry (KCL), “Ethics in cultural context: Situating surrogate labour as an exploitative practice”.

This will be followed by “A Good Death” 

4th February 2015. Good deathMoot Court, Somerset House East Wing, KCL

The photographer Edo Zollo is running a project to photograph and interview members of the public who have been personally involved with the issue of assisted dying. At this event, the photographer will present some of the images and interviews with the subjects, and Prof Penney Lewis will chair a panel discussion with him, some of the photographic subjects, and other academics working on assisted dying.

3 March 2016 – Albert Weale (UCL), “Doctors on Assisted Dying: The Dialectics of Debate”.

Also for your diaries:

25th – 26th September 2015. “Dying Well”: Enacting Medical Ethics”, Barts Pathology Museum. This symposium brings together medical professionals, lawyers, ethicists, policy makers, humanities scholars, cultural practitioners and patient representatives to consider what it might mean in today’s world to ‘die well’. The springboard for this event is Arthur Schnitzler’s medical drama Professor Bernhardi(1912), which will be performed in a new adaptation on 23-25 September. The play focuses on a Jewish doctor who prevents a Catholic priest from giving the last rites to a patient who is unaware that she is dying, and takes a wry look at some of the ways in which death is embroiled in wider social structures: cultural, political and religious. (Tickets free for UCL staff and students with discount code DWEME)

Conference: Fundamental rights in public law

21 September 2015

Saturday 10 October 2015, 9:45 – 17:00

LSE New Academic Building, 54 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ

Garden Court Chambers’ Public Law Team in association with Legal Action Group and the London School of Economics invites you to join us for a day of expert analysis and discussion.

In the 800th year of the Magna Carta, this day-long conference on Fundamental Rights reflects on the evolution of fundamental rights in the UK and its role in our modern society. At a time when human rights are coming under scrutiny and the right of individuals to challenge decisions of public bodies is under threat, this is the perfect forum in which to take stock of the legal issues and engage in discussions with some of the leaders in the public law field.

With high-level plenaries exploring some of the central themes in public law, and a choice of specialist break-out sessions, delegates can tailor the programme to suit their areas of interest. Garden Court’s public law barristers will be joined by Lord Toulson, Justice of the Supreme Court, as well as external experts from across the fields of inquest law, children’s rights and housing law.

Whether you are a seasoned public lawyer or a newcomer to the field seeking a cross-disciplinary perspective, this is an essential day of debate and discussion around fundamental rights in our society today.

The conference will be followed by a complementary drinks reception for all delegates.


09:45 – 10:15 Registration

10:15 – 10:30 Introduction: Stephen Knafler QC

10:30 – 11:30 Keynote Speech

Lord Toulson, Justice of the Supreme Court: ‘Common Law and Fundamental Rights’

11:30 – 11:50 Coffee Break

11:50 – 13:00 Morning break-out sessions

Delegates can choose between session 1A or 1B.

1. A) Making the rights of the child meaningful

  • The universality of ‘best interests of the child’ as an international norm
  • The enforceability of the best interests concept in domestic law
  • The approach of the courts and public bodies
  • Q&A

Speakers: Shu Shin LuhKathryn CroninMaria Moodie (Chair) of Garden Court Chambers 

1. B) The fundamental right to housing and welfare

  • Whether the fundamental right to affordable housing can be enforced through litigation in the UK courts
  • The UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and their legal relevance in future litigation
  • An analysis of key case law in this area including SG & Others (on the challenge to the household benefit cap based on its impact on lone parents) and Nzolameso v City of Westminster (on the offering of “out-of-borough” accommodation to single parents unable to pay their rent due to housing benefit cuts and the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children)
  • Q&A

Speakers: Liz Davies and Desmond Rutledge of Garden Court Chambers with Tom Royston(Chair) of Garden Court North 

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch to be provided

14:00 – 14:45 Plenary 1

Stephen Knafler QC of Garden Court Chambers: Fair Process

  • What is procedural fairness?
  • How does it operate and what makes it so powerful?
  • Examples from different areas of law
  • The fairness principle expands: fairness and legitimate expectation
  • Fairness and proportionality under the European Convention on Human Rights, in EU law and in common law
  • Substantive unfairness and the future

Refreshments available

14:55 – 16:10 Afternoon break-out sessions
Delegates can choose between session 2A or 2B

2. A) Disability and the ageing population: Fundamental rights in adult social care

  • Why fundamental rights matter in this area: the factual context
  • The “crisis in home care”; the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s review; what progress has been made towards a human rights-based approach?
  • Article 5 ECHR safeguards for people lacking mental capacity in social care settings: who benefits from the current safeguards and how?
  • Will Care Act 2014 provide a framework for better care? The new law on assessments, the well-being principle, ECHR rights and private providers
  • ECHR, UNCRPD and Equality Act 2010 in legal challenges to the adequacy and withdrawal of services: an appraisal from some of the case law to date; effective redress in and outside the courts
  • Proposal for a new UN Convention on the Rights of Older People
  • Q&A

Speakers: Katherine Hill, Strategy Advisor on the Equality and Human Rights for Age UK, Bethan HarrisGráinne Mellon, and Beatrice Prevatt (Chair) of Garden Court Chambers

2. B) Preventable deaths: Life in the hands of the State, does it really care?

How effective is Article 2 ECHR or does the State merely pay lip service to the ‘Right to Life’? A legal and practical discussion on the interplay between public law and the ECHR in the following areas:

  • Police shootings
  • Custody deaths at police stations
  • Restraint deaths
  • Self-inflicted deaths
  • Deaths in psychiatric hospitals
  • Suicides
  • Q&A

Speakers: Leslie Thomas QC  and Kirsten Heaven of Garden Court Chambers, Deborah Coles – Director of INQUEST and Professor Keith Rix, Consultant Psychiatrist

16:15 – 17:00 Plenary 2

Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers: Equality

  • Equality and anti-discrimination under the ECHR and EU Law
  • Statutory equality duties
  • Equality and consistency of treatment in public law / common law
  • Practical applications of equality / consistency principle

The conference will be followed by a drinks reception at the venue.

Who should attend?

  • Solicitors and paralegals working in private practice
  • Lawyers and legal advisers working in law centres
  • Lawyers working for charities and NGOs
  • Local authority lawyers and service directors
  • Central government lawyers and policy officers
  • Academics and researchers specialising in public law

What is included?

  • 5.5 hours of fully-accredited CPD training
  • Talks prepared by one of the leading sets of human rights lawyers in the country
  • Comprehensive notes for you to take away
  • Lunch and all refreshments
  • Opportunities to ask questions
  • The opportunity to buy selected Legal Action Group publications at a special conference discount

Delegate fees

Book now to take advantage of the early bird discount. Third and subsequent delegates from your firm or organisation may attend at half price. Details on how to book multiple places are available via the booking form:

Standard: £225.00
Not for profit/NGOs/law centres/advice centres: £195.00
Full-time students/volunteers/unwaged (Proof of status may be required): £75.00

Third and subsequent delegates

Standard: £112.50
Not for profit/NGOs/law centres/advice centres: £97.00
Full-time students/volunteers/unwaged (Proof of status may be required): N/A

Groups of three or more delegates from the same organisation booking at the same time will receive a 50% discount on the standard rate for their third and subsequent delegate places.

All prices are exclusive of VAT

For further details and to book online go here.

Job: Ethics of Data Analytics (“Big Data”)

17 September 2015

Closing date: Wednesday 30 September 2015.

The University of Leeds is seeking to appoint an outstanding research leader to the position of University Academic Fellow, to be based in Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied (Faculty of Arts), to work on the Ethics of Data Analytics (“Big Data”).

Applicants are expected to have demonstrated research excellence, and teaching ability, in the broadly-defined field of ethics or practical philosophy, have a commitment to inter-disciplinary work, and a skill-set for inquiry into the specific ethical issues raised in the field of ‘big data’. This might include a research track-record in neighbouring areas of philosophical inquiry such as privacy, justice, consent, risk, the public interest, trust, procedural justice.
In outline, the prestigious position involves a 5 year period heavily weighted towards research and external engagement related to that research. Successful completion of this 5 year ‘probationary’ period will lead to an appointment as Associate Professor at grade 9, and a transition into that role at the end of the initial 5 year period.

The university’s official vacancy page for the role, including a link to the job description and application procedure, is here.

Potential applicants are encouraged to make informal enquiries about the role. Please contact Professor Chris Megone, tel: +44 (0)113 343 7888, email: C.B.Megone[at], or Dr Jamie Dow, tel: +44 (0)113 343 7887, email:J.Dow[at]

Workshop: Methodological and Ethical Perspectives of Visual Health Communication

17 September 2015

October 7th, 2015, Department for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany.

This workshop is dedicated to the ethical, social and communicative issues of public visual health communication targeting anonymous consumers of health care. Visual health communication occurs not only in the commercial sector of advertisements for pharmaceutical products, but is also very prominent in public campaigns for health prevention, organ donation or professional presentation. The underlying values and implicit moralities are often covered by subtle rhetoric and especially complex visual messages. Public campaigns for organ donation, as a prominent example, often remind us of our own mortality, appeal to social norms of reciprocity or encourage us to make just a decision. But they are also driven by interests to increase the number of organs available for transplantation.

The aim of the workshop is to unfold the complex ethical, social and cultural topics involved in different types of public health communication by examining the relationship between socio-political approaches, aesthetical and cultural framing and the moral principles/values as part of the visual messages.

Media and medical ethics focusing on texts, discourses and arguments need to integrate perspectives from cultural and visual studies to tackle this complex interplay. We want to initiate a dialogue between experts from medical ethics, sociology and communication sciences and analyze visual health communication from different perspectives, combining methodological and theoretical approaches in an interdisciplinary setting, and providing a platform for further exchange.

This is the second workshop of the DFG-funded project: “’I would prefer not to.’ Organ donation between unease and criticism. A sociological and ethical analysis.” PIs: Prof. Dr. Frank Adloff (Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz (Göttingen)


Dr. Mona Motakef, Berlin: “Hey, Big Spender!” Interpellations in Organ Transplantation Campaigns with Butler und Althusser

Prof. Dr. Elke Grittmann, Lüneburg: The Visual Framing of Compassion and Solidarity. Evoking Empathy in Visual Media Culture 

Gitit Bar-On, PhD Candidate, Tel Aviv: How to Approach a Text with Health Message? Methodological Aspects of Analyzing Campaigns on Organ Transplantation 

Solveig Lena Hansen, M.A., Göttingen: Pictures for Life. Analyzing the Moral Iconography of the German Organ Transplantation Foundation 

Registration: External participants are welcome. The workshop is free (except for dinner), registration until September 26th, 2015 required. Please contact solveig-lena.hansen[at]


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