20th anniversary lecture

As part of the Council's 20th anniversary celebrations, we are pleased to announce the annual public lecture for 2011:

Broadening bioethics:
clinical ethics, public health and global health

Baroness Onora O'Neill CBE FBA
Department of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Thursday 19 May 2011 at 6.30-7.45 pm (registration/refreshments from 6.00 pm), followed by a drinks reception

Royal Society of Arts, 8 John Adam St, London WC2N 6EZ

Medical ethics is the most discussed field of bioethics, and has been mainly concerned with clinical ethics. It has often marginalised ethical questions about public health. A focus on the treatment of individuals has highlighted patient choice and informed consent. It can be widened to discuss the just distribution of health care, but is useless for considering many other interventions and policies that matter for public health.  Many public health interventions are non-distributable goods, so cannot be allocated to individuals or subjected to individual choice requirements. In marginalising public health, work in medical ethics also often marginalised questions about global health issues, where public health interventions matter hugely, and entrenched a deep separation of medical from environmental ethics.

Work that takes public and global health seriously needs to be anchored in political philosophy, to look beyond informed consent and individual choice, and to ask which interventions are permissible without the consent of those whom they may affect, and which are not. Public health encompasses more  than health ‘promotion’ and ‘nudges’, and even clinical interventions that are directed to individuals presuppose  standards, technologies, and structures that cannot  be matters of choice.  

About the speaker

Onora O'Neill

Onora O’Neill writes on ethics and political philosophy, with particular interests in international justice, the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, questions of bioethics, and conceptions of accountability and trust. She was a founder member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which she later chaired, and subsequently chaired the Nuffield Foundation. She sits in the House of Lords as a crossbench peer (Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve), is a former President of the British Academy and teaches philosophy in Cambridge.     


This event is now full. To add your name to the waiting list, please contact Carol Perkins.
Email: cperkins@nuffieldbioethics.org
Telephone: +44 (0)207 681 9619