UCL Health Humanities Centre


Public Healthand Global Health Ethics

Our Public Health and Global health Ethics theme examines the nature, justification and limits of duties to protect health - both at a national level, and at a global level. Projects within this theme include health inequalities, the human right to health, the ethics of health promotion, communicable disease ethics, and clinical research as political advocacy.

Health Inequalities

Much of CPJH’s work has examined the ethical implications of health inequalities. Conferences on health inequalities have included Inequality and Health (2011), and Justice and the Social Determinants of Health (2008). Papers from the 2008 were published in a special edition of Public Health Ethics and in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Ethics of Health Promotion

We convened a conference on the ethics and health promotion in 2010. Outputs from this work include a series of papers by James Wilson on the justifiability of state intervention for health, and a forthcoming monograph by Sarah Edwards and Sapfo Ligno on the concept of manipulation.

Ethics and Infectious Disease

James Wilson was awarded an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, joint with the Health Protection Agency, for a project on the ethics of infectious disease. The studentship was awarded to Jasper Littmann, who is focusing on antibiotic resistance and intergenerational justice. Other research outputs include the workshop Time, Harm and Uncertainty: themes in the Ethics of Infectious Disease (2012).

Human Right to Health

Much of our work on the Human Right to Health is done in jointly with the UCL Institute for Human Rights. Outputs include the 2009 conference The Human Right to Health, and Jonathan Wolff’s (2012) book of the same name.

Walton Donation

Through the UCL Institute of Global Health, the CPJH received a grant of £15,000 for the project “Clinical Trials as Political Advocacy”. This project will explore the ways in which clinical trials, especially in low resource settings, have been used to demonstrate that a controversial treatment regimen can be clinically effective, and thus can be used to support a campaign or argument that resources should be found to carry out the programme on a greater scale. Jonathan Wolff, Sarah Edwards, Sapfo Lignou and Gry Wester have been involved with the project to date.

Ethics of Risk Project

The AHRC funded Ethics of Risk project (2008-2011) examined ethical and conceptual issues involved in the imposition of risk, as well as examining specific risk contexts such transport and health. The project convened three conferences, including the Ethics of Risk. Outputs included:

  • Madeleine Hayenhjelm and Jonathan Wolff, “The Moral Problem of Risk Imposition: A Survey of the Literature”, European Journal of Philosophy (June 2012)
  • Jonathan Wolff, 'Risk, Disadvantage and the Social Determinants of Health', Public Health Ethics 2: 214-223
  • Jonathan Wolff, 'Five Types of Risky Situation' Law Technology and Innovation (2) 151-163

Fair Retirement

This research project, funded by a grant from the Crucible Centre for Lifelong Health and Wellbeing proposed that entitlement to full pension should be based on ‘years in the workforce’ rather than age. This would not preclude those who wished to remaining in work, on perhaps a part-time basis, and might, therefore, allow more flexible working towards the end of the working life. A paper on the topic, by Gry Wester and Jo Wolff, has been published in Public Health Ethics.