Find out about some of the research activity currently based in the Department below. (For books authored and edited by our academic staff, see Publications)
We are proud and delighted that the journal MIND is to be partly based in the UCL Philosophy Department – and partly based in Oxford – from the autumn of 2015. Professor Lucy O’Brien (UCL) and Professor A.W. Moore (Oxford) are the new editors of the journal.
Dr Rory Madden is currently Honorary Director of the Aristotelian Society, a learned society which was founded in 1880 and meets fortnightly in London to hear and discuss talks given by leading philosophers.
Research Projects based in the Department
We are delighted to announce that Dr Benedict Rumbold has been awarded a two year Wellcome Trust Society and Ethics Fellowship for a project titled "Patient and public involvement in priority setting: should we listen to the will of the people?".
Decision-makers tasked with allocating resources within health systems often face huge pressure about funding decisions from patients and the public, often described as lobbying. The project will provide a detailed philosophical analysis of how far decision-makers ought to respond to attempts by patient and public interest groups to influence priority setting decisions through lobbying and other forms of political pressure. The project will use an ‘empirical ethics’ approach, combining both philosophical analysis and qualitative research.
Starting from an assumption that citizens have a right to lobby, this research will be organised around the following questions:
1.What are the ethical grounds for citizens’ right to lobby and what kinds of activity does it cover?
2. Do priority-setters have a moral obligation to respond to, or act upon, lobbying and other kinds of political pressure by patients and the public when making decisions about how to allocate health care resources?
3. What kinds of mechanisms and processes do UK priority setters need to put in place in order to ensure that what lobbying they receive is dealt with in a fair and equitable manner?
The project builds on the existing work of the UCL-KCL Social Values Group, and will be facilitated by the Philosophy Department and the Health Humanities Centre.
Dr Daniel Rothschild has won an AHRC Leadership Fellows grant for a project entitled ‘Dynamics of Conversation’. Here is Daniel’s account of what he’s doing (in lay terms):
One of the many things we can do with language is exchange information. It is tempting to think this aspect of language is the key to understanding how it works. One way of developing this is to suppose that sentences in a language, such as English, each encode a piece of information, what we can call a proposition. When we say a sentence assertively we are putting forward the proposition it encodes. Call this picture the static view of conversation, a view consonant with the conception of meaning we find in Frege, Russell and the early Wittgenstein. As banal and truistic as the static picture seems, it is not forced on us. We can instead view individual sentences not as encoding information, but rather acting as instructions. This is the dynamic view of conversation, which has its origins in Wittgenstein’s later philosophy. The dynamic and static models are different, idealized pictures of conversation: on the static view, conversation proceeds as an incremental accrual of information, on the dynamic view, conversation consists of back-and-forth instructions. The Dynamics of Conversation project is aimed at developing and comparing these two rival views.
The Human Right to Health and Priority Setting in Healthcare
This project won a UCL Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects (CHIRP) Early Career Researcher grant. It investigates a growing conflict, arising independently in a number of countries, between a legal recognition of each citizen’s ‘right to health’ and the need to prioritise certain patient groups over others in the allocation of scarce healthcare resources.
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 it. The aim of the project, then, is to articulate the nature of the moral conflict between various rights, goals and duties in the allocation of health care resources, in the hope of thereby enabling a just resolution of the normative demands at play. Thus far the project has seen the successful submission of a review article surveying existing conceptions of the moral right to health. In collaboration with other researchers, we also held an international two-day conference in June 2015: ‘Fulfilling Rights, Realising Goals and Meeting Duties in the drive towards Universal Health Coverage.’ At present, the participants are working on a consensus statement to be submitted for publication in autumn 2015. For further information on this project contact Benedict Rumbold.
Members of the Department are currently editorially involved with the following academic journals:
Page last modified on 05 feb 16 16:50