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Research

The Centre for Philosophy, Justice and Health brings philosophers together with political scientists, epidemiologists, health economists, lawyers and doctors to examine a wide range of ethical and political problems of health and wellbeing in society. Our research is organised around four main themes:  

1. Evaluation and measurement of health and wellbeing. This theme focuses on how health and wellbeing should be measured for public policy purposes, and on the fair distribution of health resources.

2. Public health and global health ethics. This theme focuses on the nature, justification and limits of duties to protect health. Subthemes include health inequities, the human right to health, the ethics of health promotion and communicable disease ethics.

3. Bioethics. Our bioethics theme examines ethical and legal issues in healthcare research and practice. Subthemes include research ethics, the role and limits of consent, mental capacity, neuroethics and the ethical implications of new technologies.

4. Social justice and public policy. This theme examines key public policy challenges – including retirement, indebtedness, and urban planning through the lens of political philosophy.

Our research aims to combine practicality with the highest levels of theoretical rigour. Outputs include policy reports and interventions as well as conventional academic articles and books.

New Project on The Human Right to Health and Priority Setting in Healthcare

The are pleased to announce a new project on The Human Right to Health and Priority Setting in Healthcare. Winner of a Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects (CHIRP) Early Career Researcher grant, this project investigates a growing conflict, arising independently in a number of countries, between a legal recognition of the right of each citizen to health and the need to prioritise certain patient groups over others in the allocation of scarce healthcare resources.

The 'right to health' is a feature of several international instruments (including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and the constitution of a number of countries.  However, it has been claimed that legislation along these lines has led to a distortion in the distribution of healthcare resources across populations, primarily by skewing the allocation of resources towards those who can afford to press their claim for specific treatments in constitutional courts.

To date, debate on this topic has tended to polarise opinion, with well-entrenched positions in the policy world. However, there is the opportunity for conceptual and policy analysis to bring out the complexity of this problem while simultaneously offering means to alleviate the current predicament. A successful project needs to identify the policy conflicts but also needs to address the issues in a way that uses philosophical tools to identify key arguments and assumptions. We have therefore opted for a mixed method approach, in which qualitative research methods will be used to uncover the scale and nature of the existing problem and philosophical analysis will be used to consider how far current tensions embody a deep, conceptual dilemma, and what interventions might allow countries to relieve it.

For further details, please contact Benedict Rumbold.

Researching with CPJH

To discuss research grant collaborations or consultancy with the Centre, please contact James Wilson. If you would like to apply to do a PhD, please contact James Wilson if your proposed topic fits into themes 1, 2 or 4, or Sarah Edwards if your topic is in bioethics.