Workshop: Suffering and Autonomy at End of Life

University of Glasgow, March 2017 (date to be confirmed)

We are pleased to announce a series of events, to be held in Glasgow in 2017-2018, discussing the relationship between suffering and autonomy, with a particular focus on end of life care.

In each event, one space is reserved for a graduate student or early career researcher to present a paper which addresses the theme of the workshop. To that end we invite submissions from interested parties, addressing the themes of the series (as detailed below). We will pay all accommodation and subsistence costs, and also reasonable travel costs within the UK.

Demographic changes in western liberal democracies challenge established theory and practice concerning end of life care. This requires advances not only in the medical science of geriatric and palliative care, but also in the underlying philosophies of old age, illness, and dying, and how they relate to autonomy. Autonomy is an ideal according to which people successfully shape their lives in accordance with the values they have chosen. Autonomy at the end of life is a crucial dimension of this ideal.  Answers to the urgent questions concerning the design and delivery of end of life care require a deeper understanding of, for example, the nature and role of the suffering including its effects on consent, well-being, decision-making, the integrity of a person, and their quality of life.

The first event will be a one-day workshop, to be held in March 2017, and will answer the question: how does suffering augment autonomy at end of life?

Physical and emotional suffering can have significant value. For instance, a person’s perspective on what’s valuable or important may be enhanced through their suffering and their understanding about who they are and what they care about may be advanced. Suffering at the end of life plausibly often yields just such enhancements and advancements, therefore providing distinctive opportunities for the augmentation of autonomy. At this workshop, we thus consider how suffering augments autonomy at the end of life.

Further details (including dates and registration details) will be announced soon.

For the first workshop, full papers of up to 6,000 words should be submitted to ben.colburn[at]glasgow.ac.uk by 1 February 2017, with a separate note indicating the applicant’s career status.* The successful presenter will be informed by 1 March 2017.

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