A selection of seminars and special lectures on wide-ranging topics relating to practical ethics. The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics was established in 2002 with the support of the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education of Japan. It is an integral part of the philosophy faculty of Oxford University, one of the great centres of academic excellence in philosophical ethics.
The Neuroscience of a Life Well-Lived
Professor Morten L. Kringlebach explains how recent advances in neuroimaging offer an insight into hedonia and eudaimonia, and draws out implications for neuropsychiatric disorders. Recent advances in whole-brain modelling have helped stratify the heterogeneity of anhedonia across neuropsychiatric disorders, and the key underlying components of the pleasure network. I will show how modelling of neuroimaging data from diverse hedonic routes such as psychedelics, meditation and music could potentially offer new insights not only into hedonia but potentially also eudaimonia. To this end, we have recently demonstrated the hierarchical organisation of consciousness in over thousand people, and the crucial role played by rare long-range exceptions to a fundamental exponential distance rule of brain connectivity. These processes are controlling the information cascade in the turbulent-like brain dynamics necessary for optimal orchestration of behaviour necessary a life well-lived. This has direct implications for getting a handle on eudaimonia and well-being which are difficult to study empirically, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of anhedonia in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Professor Morten L. Kringlebach (Aarhus University, Denmark; University of Oxford)
THE NEW ST CROSS SPECIAL ETHICS SEMINARS ARE JOINTLY ARRANGED BY THE OXFORD UEHIRO CENTRE AND THE WELLCOME CENTRE FOR ETHICS AND HUMANITIES (WEH).
Affect, Value and Problems Assessing Decision-Making Capacity
MT20 New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar with Assoc. Professor Jennifer Hawkins Valid informed consent to treatment requires that the person giving consent have decision-making capacity or (what amounts to the same thing) must be mentally competent. To date the most influential model for both conceptualizing what capacity is, and for assessing it clinically, is the “four abilities model” developed by Thomas Grisso and Paul Appelbaum. Despite its popularity, however, this framework is flawed. It not infrequently delivers the wrong verdict in certain kinds of cases involving strong emotions and/or problematic values. Given that we want to (a) avoid objectionable forms of paternalism (b) avoid labeling as incompetent those who simply have unusual values and (c) avoid assuming that mental illness entails lack of capacity, it can seem as if there is no good solution to the problems posed by these cases. Nonetheless, there is a way we can proceed while avoiding these moral pitfalls. In this paper I first offer a better way of conceptualizing what it is we are trying to determine in capacity assessments, and then sketch an alternative way to assess capacity that avoids the moral pitfalls while yielding better, more plausible results in the problem cases. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Conscience Rights or Conscience Wrongs?: Debating conscientious objection in healthcare
Alberto Giubilini and David Jones trade views and argue each other's position on conscientious objection in healthcare In this unusual online debate, Alberto Guibilini (Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics) and David Jones (The Anscombe Bioethics Centre) adopt each other's position on conscientious objection, arguing for the opposing view in an attempt to explore not only the subject, but the very nature of disagreement and discussion.
Choosing Now for Later: Precedent Autonomy and Problem of Surrogate Decision-Making After Severe Brain Injury
Recording of the New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar on surrogate decision-making after severe brain injury. Patients with ‘covert awareness’ may continue to have values and an authentic sense of self, which may differ from their past values and wishes, despite lacking decision-making capacity in the present. Accordingly, surrogate decision-makers should make decisions based on how the patient is likely to experience their condition in the present, rather than their past wishes and values.
Medically Assisted Dying in Canada: from where we’ve come; to where we’re heading
In this New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, Professor Arthur Schafer outlines the current contours of the Canadian euthanasia debate. In June of 2016 the Canadian Parliament passed legislation (Bill-14) legalizing MAiD: medical assistance in dying. Subject to various restrictions, both mercy killing and medically assisted suicide are now legal in Canada. The contours of the Canadian euthanasia debate will be described, with special focus on the ethical issues that remain most controversial. Two salient Canadian Supreme Court decisions will be analysed: Rodriguez (1993) and Carter (2015), as well as more recent constitutional challenges. The presentation will conclude by outlining the further legal changes that are likely to (or that should) occur in the reasonably near future. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Why is mental healthcare so ethically confusing? Clinicians and institutions from an anthropological perspective
In this talk, Neil Armstrong uses ethnographic material of NHS mental healthcare to raise some questions about autonomy, risk and personal and institutional responsibility. Neil Armstrong's research investigates mental health. He is particularly interested in how the institutional setting shapes so much of mental healthcare. His research aims to find ways that we might improve healthcare institutions rather than just focussing on developing new healthcare interventions. He is also concerned with methodological questions: how anthropological work can be of clinical value, and how best to produce anthropological knowledge in an inclusive way.