Conference: Autonomy and Mental Health

7-8 January 2010

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

The conference aims to identify and explore the underlying connections between the concepts of autonomy, decisional capacity, and mental disorder. It will provide a forum for philosophers, psychiatrists, legal experts, and other professionals whose work builds on these challenging concepts.

•    Does the notion of capacity necessarily involve some evaluative components? How does it relate to the notion of autonomy?
•    What are the defining features of mental disorder? Should they comprise distress and diminished control over one’s actions?
•    Is the focus on patient autonomy helpful in the context of mental healthcare? Does it unwittingly undermine both considerations of privacy and the rationale for practical assistance?
•    Could philosophical conceptions of autonomy account for psychiatric cases, in which autonomy is deemed to be compromised? Would the standard distinction between moral and personal autonomy be applicable?

•    Prof. Derek Bolton (Professor of Philosophy & Psychopathology, King’s College London and Hon. Consultant Clinical Psychologist,& Associate Director, Clinical Governance, South London & Maudsley NHS Trust)
•  Dr Lisa Bortolotti (Senior Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham)
•    Dr Elizabeth Fistein (Cambridge Intellectual & Development Disabilities Research Group, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, and alumna of the MA in Medical Ethics and Law at KCL)
•    Prof. Bill Fulford (Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford, and Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health, University of Warwick)
•    Prof. Jane Heal (Professor in Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge)
•    Dr Jules Holroyd (Lecturer, School of English, Communication & Philosophy, Cardiff University)
•    Prof. Agnieszka Jaworska (Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of California Riverside)
•    Dr Hallvard Lillehammer (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge)
•    Prof. Jennifer Radden (Professor and Chair, Philosophy Department, University of Massachusetts)
•    Dr Lubomira Radoilska (Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge)
•    Dr Jens Timmermann (Senior Lecturer in Moral Philosophy, University of St. Andrews)
•    Prof. Guy Widdershoven (Professor of Medical Philosophy and Ethics and Chair, Department of Medical Humanities, University of Amsterdam)

The conference programme, online registration, and further details are available here.

If you have any queries about this event, please do not hesitate to contact the conference convenor, Dr. Lubomira Radoilska via email:


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