126 episodes

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.

Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics Oxford University

    • Education
    • 3.8 • 4 Ratings

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.

    Vaccine policies and challenge trials: the ethics of relative risk in public health

    Vaccine policies and challenge trials: the ethics of relative risk in public health

    In this St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, Dr Sarah Chan outlines some risks arising from the deliberate infection of human participants to infectious agents for research purposes In this St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, Dr Sarah Chan explores three key areas of risk in ‘challenge trials’ – the deliberate infection of human participants to infectious agents as a tool for vaccine development and improving our knowledge of disease biology. Dr Chan explores a) whether some forms of challenge trials cannot be ethically justified; b) why stratifying populations for vaccine allocation by risk profile can result in unjust risk distribution; and c) how comparing these cases and the evaluation of relative risk reveals flaws in approach to pandemic public health.

    • 53 min
    Do We Need Mental Privacy? The Ethics of Mind Reading Reloaded

    Do We Need Mental Privacy? The Ethics of Mind Reading Reloaded

    Marcello Ienca discusses moral and legal issues surrounding the decoding – ‘mind reading’ - of brain activity In the 1990s, following rapid advances in the use of technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), an ethical debate arose around the concept of 'mind reading': the possibility of decoding a person's mental states (including their conscious experience) based on quantitative measurements of their brain activity. This debate concerned the moral and legal status of information about mental states (mental information) and the definition of normative principles to justify the collection and processing of such information. However, the poor replicability of fMRI-based studies combined with conceptual clarifications within the philosophy of mind (such as Dennett's vehicle-content distinction) showed that this debate rested on weak empirical and conceptual grounds. As a result, the interest of the bioethics/neuroethics community waned. A couple of decades later, however, the wide availability of brain data outside the clinical setting combined with the use of artificial intelligence models to process and decode such data (through a process known as 'reverse inference') make the ethical debate on mind-reading topical again, albeit on a different conceptual ground. In addition, AI approaches such as affective computing and natural language processing have shown the possibility of inferring a person's mental states also from non-neural data (e.g., social media). This presentation will discuss the moral and legal status of mental information and the conditions for legitimate access to and alteration of such information. In particular, it will examine the concepts of ‘mental privacy’ and ‘cognitive liberty’ and defend the thesis that every person should enjoy a right to mental self-determination. This includes both the negative freedom from coercive or otherwise non-voluntary access to one's mental sphere and the positive freedom of the individual to modify their mental states and processes (e.g. through cognitive or affective enhancement).

    • 35 min
    Waiver or understanding? A dilemma for autonomists about informed consent

    Waiver or understanding? A dilemma for autonomists about informed consent

    Professor Gopal Sreenivasan delivers a New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar on the topic of Informed Consent. This talk develops a novel argument to show that prospective research subjects can validly consent to participate in a study without understanding (most of) the content of the required disclosure. Its point of departure is the right subjects standardly have to waive (most of) the investigator’s duty to disclose. Things get worse for autonomy based defences of informed consent because this right to waive is very well grounded in an individual’s autonomy.

    • 44 min
    Fighting diseases of poverty through research: Deadly dilemmas, moral distress and misplaced responsibilities

    Fighting diseases of poverty through research: Deadly dilemmas, moral distress and misplaced responsibilities

    A New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, with Professor Maureen Kelley. Much of global health research occurs against the backdrop of severe, intersectional and structural vulnerabilities, where susceptibility to disease and early death are driven by poverty, and related factors such as political conflict and climate change. Global health research priorities over the last two decades have been shaped by a small number of high income country institutions, with political commitments informed largely by the ‘global burden of disease’ model. On this model, international research has primarily targeted infectious diseases and other causes of high morbidity and premature, preventable mortality, but has ignored the structural determinants of those diseases. An unintended consequence is that researchers at the frontlines of data collection and interaction with participants and communities come face-to-face with the daily suffering of participants and family members. They often face heart-rending dilemmas in responding to complex health, social, and economic needs that far outstrip the resources and expertise of most research projects or clinical trials. In this presentation, I will share findings from a longitudinal research ethics study, where local ethics teams were embedded within ongoing clinical and social science research studies in contexts of severe poverty, food shortages, droughts and flooding, gender-based violence and political conflict—typical of many global health research sites. Based on our empirical ethics findings, including experiences of research participants, community members and researchers, I will offer critical reflections on the limitations of current accounts of researcher responsibility (ancillary care or duty of care), and suggest we rethink the ways that current global health research institutions and funders engage the underlying structural drivers of disease and suffering.

    • 52 min
    Towards a plasticity of the mind – New-ish ethical conundrums in dementia care, treatment, and research

    Towards a plasticity of the mind – New-ish ethical conundrums in dementia care, treatment, and research

    A New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar with Dr David M Lyreskog. It is no exaggeration that the philosophical and ethical dimensions of age-related cognitive decline and dementia have been discussed for millennia, nor is it without reason. To this day, we struggle with understanding and dealing with the conceptual and ethical complexities which these conditions give rise to. And yet, we keep encountering new problems, challenging us to again rethink our relationship with neurodegenerative disease, cognitive impairment, and personhood.
    In this presentation I highlight phenomena in dementia care, prevention, and treatment, which have recently gained attention in dementia care and in the literature of the same – including relational identity adoption, paradoxical lucidity, and transformative experience – and discuss their ethical, philosophical, and practical implications. I argue that, to tackle the problems that arise, we may need to adjust our way of thinking about the human mind, to better make sense of what is at stake in dementia care and to deal with the consequences. I suggest that a framework allowing a spacial and temporal “plasticity of the mind” of sorts may help us in this endeavour, and inform our decision-making in care, prevention and treatment of dementia. I also address some of the potential issues with adopting such an approach, and discuss how to move on from here.

    • 39 min
    The Neuroscience of a Life Well-Lived

    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).

    • 44 min

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