18 September 2013

KCL and UCL now have a substantial number of faculty and PhD students working in bioethics, broadly construed. This colloquium aims to facilitate high-level discussion among these scholars and link individuals and groups across KCL, UCL, and beyond.

Topics range from traditional questions in medical ethics and law to ethical issues in the design of health systems at the national and global level (public health ethics / global health ethics).

When? First Thursday of the month, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, with the possibility to go for drinks afterwards. Two sessions per term, starting in the fall of 2013.

Where? Alternating between KCL and UCL.

Contact: Annette Rid, James Wilson

FALL 2013

3 October 2013, 4:00 – 5:30 pm

Moot Court, UCL Laws, Bentham House – Endsleigh Gardens – London WC1H 0EG

Jonathan Wolff: Paying people to act in their own interests: incentives versus rationalisation

Continuing session in the Lord John Russell

7 November 2013, 4:00 – 5:30 pm


Genevra Richardson: Mental disability and human rights: can principle ever serve global reality?


Radio: Controlling people

17 October 2011

BBC World Service, available indefinitely as a podcast or listen online via the iPlayer

From the programme’s website: “The world’s population is due to reach seven billion people this year, and by around 2050 it could grow by yet another two billion.

Using India as an exemplar, Professor Matthew Connelly of Columbia University, New York, documents a global campaign that began with the best humanitarian ideals, but which led to authoritarian control over some of the world’s poorest citizens.

He uncovers a story of tragic mistakes and sometimes terrible human rights abuses, and shows how we will be living with the consequences for decades to come.”

Radio: Organ transplants

6 October 2011

BBC Radio 3, Monday 10th October 2011, 22.00-22.45

From the programme’s webpage: “As the Nuffield Council on Bioethics publishes a report on donating human bodily material for medicine and research, Anne McElvoy asks how far should society go in encouraging us to donate bodily material? Is it acceptable to offer people money? And what is the role of the government and others in responding to the demand for bodily material?”

Radio/podcast: Freakonomics on paying for organs

3 March 2011

Freakonomics: You Say Repugnant, I Say … Let’s Do It!
available now free as a podcast from their site, or from the iTunes store, or you can play (stream) it directly without downloading or read the transcript

From the Freakonomics website: “Some ideas are downright repugnant. Like … paying for human organs.

On the other hand, isn’t it repugnant to let thousands of people die every year for want of a kidney that a lot of people might be willing to give up if they were able to be compensated?

Our new podcast ventures into the realm of repugnant ideas. The fact is that the repugnance border shifts over time. Selling eggs or sperm, “renting” a womb: not long ago, all of this was considered way out of bounds. So was birth control and adoption. Go back a bit further in history: currency speculation, charging interest on loans, even selling life insurance — these practices, too, were almost universally felt to be repugnant.

Will the border shift for human organs as well?

On our journey through the repugnant, you’ll hear from … Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt; Harvard economist (and the dean of repugnant ideas) Al Roth, who has thought long and hard about organ shortages; and two doctors — one an Israeli transplant surgeon, the other a New York emergency-medicine specialist — who stare their existing organ-donor protocols in the face and spit on them. Because sometimes the best way to fight repugnance is with a little repugnance of your own.”

Debate: Paying for blood and organs is not so bad

13 August 2010

Monday, 11 October 2010, 5:30pm

The Wellcome Collection Conference Centre

183 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BE

Allowing sales of gametes and body parts and offering incentives to increase provision have been some of the more controversial suggestions to narrow the gap between demand and supply. Drawing on Richard Titmuss’ work on blood, many have argued that financial incentives reduce supply by driving out altruistic donors as well as reducing the quality of the provided gametes and body parts and the decision-making surrounding their provision.

This debate brings together leading experts to consider, in the light of evidence and argument, whether the taboo on payment for gametes and body parts remains crucial, and how this should influence our thinking about policy.

Speaking for the motion:
Professor Martin Wilkinson
Associate Professor of Political Studies, University of Auckland

Seconder  TBC

Speaking against the motion:
Professor Heather Widdows
Professor of Global Ethics, University of Birmingham (tbc)

Professor Sheila M. Bird
Senior Scientist, MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge

Professor Theresa M. Marteau
Professor of Health Psychology, King’s College London; Director of CSI Health

Tea served from 5. To be followed by refreshments.

This event is open to all and free to attend. Further information here. To book your place please email