CFR: Values-Based Practice Theory Network Conference, Oxford 3-4 May 2016

CFR: Values-Based Practice Theory Network Spring Conference, Oxford 3-4 May 2016

The second meeting of the Values-Based Practice Theory Network will be a two-day conference held at St Catherine’s College Oxford on 3rd and 4th May 2016. The conference is run in partnership with the Collaborating Centre for Values-Practice in Health and Social Care ( and Anna Bergqvist’s established Particularism in Bioethics, Professional Ethics and Medicine Network at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Venue: The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice, St Catherine’s College Oxford.

Theme: Value, Context and Narrative Explanation in Medical Epistemology and Health Care Practice.

The theme of the interdisciplinary conference is focused on the theoretical underpinnings of values-based practice and explores the implications of illness narrative and contextualism for debates about objectivity and value in philosophy of medicine and medical epistemology more generally. It builds on our first conference on Values-Based Practice and Moral Particularism in October 2015, with special attention to philosophy of psychiatry, clinical practice and scientific methodology. By bringing together theorists and practitioners from the disciplines of Philosophy and Psychology our aim is to explore the ways in which normative critical perspectives challenge the implicit or assumed reductive theoretical paradigm of many current models and measures of ‘value’ in health care contexts in developing new integrative and holistic approaches. We hope that the event will open up a dialogue about the ways we might think and argue differently about the benefit of conceptual and evaluative thought in these contexts.


Tuesday 3rd May:

09:00 – 09:15. Registration and Welcome

09:15 – 09:45. Benedict Smith (Durham University), ‘Values Based Practice and Context’.

09:45 – 10:30. Ulrik Kihlbom (Uppsala University), ‘Narrative Understanding in Clinical Decision Making and Serious Games Interventions’.

10:30 – 11:00. Tea & Coffee

11:30 – 12:15. Lubomira Radoilska (University of Kent), ‘Ignorance of What One is Doing’.

12:15 – 13:00. Ian Kidd (University of Nottingham), ‘Illness, Ethics and Exemplarism’.

13:00 – 14:00. Lunch

14:00 – 14:45. Richard Gipps (University of Oxford), ‘Psychotherapy as Moral Practice’.

14:45 – 15:30. Anna Bergqvist (MMU), Value, Perspective and Integration: Reassessing Narrative Selfhood in Borderline Personality Disorder’.

15:30 – 16:00. Tea & Coffee

16:00 – 16:45. Mark Haydon-Laurelut (University of Portsmouth/NHS). ‘Systemic Psychotherapy, Narrative and Autistic Spectrum Conditions’.

16:45 – 17:00. Concluding Remarks.

18:00 – Dinner (at self-cost).


Wednesday 4th May:

09:00 – 09:45. Anna Zielinska (Sorbonne), ‘The Normativity of Empirical Enquires: The Case of Genetics’.

09:45 – 09:45. Dieneke Hubbeling (Royal College of Psychiatrists, Philosophy Special Interest Group), ‘Outcome Bias, Values, and Moral Luck’.

10:30 – 11:00. Tea & Coffee

11:30 – 12:15. Alan Thomas (Tilburg University), ‘Particularism and Group Agency’.

12:15 – 13:00. Tim Thornton (University of Central Lancashire), ‘Who Are We? Subjectivity in Objective Values-Based Practice’.

13:00 – 14:00. Lunch

14:00 – 14:45. Caroline Vass (University of Manchester/Uppsala University), ‘What is Health Economics? Problematising Value in Stratified Medicine’.

14:45 – 15:30 Jens Erik Paulsen (Norwegian Police College University), ‘Policing as a Values-Based Practice: Challenges and Prospects’.

15:30 – 16:00 Tea & Coffee

16:00 – 17:00 Roundtable Discussion

17:00 Close



The event is free and open to all but places are limited, for which reason registration is necessary. To register, please send an email to the conference organiser and director of the VBP Theory Network Anna Bergqvist at no later than Thursday 28 April 2016.

Please state any dietary or disability restrictions as appropriate, all of which will be fully catered for.


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Inaugural Advanced Seminar of the Values-based Theory Network, St Catherine’s College Oxford 12 October 2015

Call for Abstracts and Expressions of Interest

Moral Particularism and Values-based Practice

12 October 2015

Advanced Seminar and Inaugural Values-Based Theory Network Meeting, The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford.

Paper abstracts are sought for the inaugural meeting of the Values-based Theory Network contributing to the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, 12 October 2015, University of Oxford.

Abstracts (500 words), prepared for blind-review, including a separate title page stating title, name and affiliation, are due on 5 October 2015.

Submissions to:

The inaugural meeting will be an Advanced Studies Seminar at St Catherine’s College Oxford on Monday October 12th focusing on Moral Particularism. The seminar will be run in partnership Bergqvist’s established Particularism in Bioethics, Professional Ethics and Medicine Network. Thanks to a generous grant from the Society of Applied Philosophy, up to four bursaries of £150 are available to help postgraduate students attend the event. Advanced Studies Seminars are by invitation only but if you are interested in attending contact the organiser via email at:

Invited Speakers

Dr Anna Bergqvist, Lecturer in Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University and Convener of the Values-based Theory Network.

Professor Havi Carel, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol.

Professor Tim Thornton, Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health at the University of Central Lancashire.

Dr Benedict Smith, Lecturer in Philosophy and Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University.

Other Participants

Professor K. W. M. Fulford, Fellow of St Catherine’s College Oxford, Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist of the University of Oxford and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health at the University of Warwick.

Dr Michael Lacewing, Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College and Honorary Reader teaching on the MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies at UCL.

Dr Edward Harcourt, Lecturer in Philosophy (CUF) at the University of Oxford and Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Keble College.

Richard Gipps, Clinical Psychologist and Associate Faculty Member of the University of Oxford.

Professor Constantine Sandis, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire.

The selection of speakers and other participants is informed by the desire to attain a balance at the workshop between the various areas of philosophical ethics and health care research implicated by the topic of Particularism and Values-based Practice. The same criteria will be applied when selecting papers and submitted to the Open Call. The primary motivation for seeking to attain this balance is to encourage the fruitful exchange of ideas between different perspectives and areas in moral philosophy, clinical psychiatry and psychoanalysis, nursing ethics, health and social care.

Workshop Theme

There has been a remarkable renewal of interest in cross-disciplinary work between philosophy, psychiatry and health care during the last few decades, as shown by new volume series such as the International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry (Oxford University Press, ed. Fulford, Morris, Sadler and Staghellini) and more compendious textbooks such as Fulford (2013), Kendler and Parnas (2008), Radden (2004), and Solomon (2015). Essential to the development of the new philosophy of psychiatry are three closely themes that speak directly to the theoretical framework of Moral Particularism and also informs the non-reductive research methodology of Values-based Practice: the irreducible role of individual judgement, the centrality of the whole person as the basic unit of meaning and an enriched conception of nature, a “relaxed naturalism” (McDowell, 1998; Thornton, 2007). In reclaiming the three interrelated themes, of judgement, of the whole person, and of an enriched meaningful conception of natural science as the basis for an analytic philosophy of psychiatry, this project aims to re-assess the moral particularism and narrative explanation as a complimentary support tools for healthcare decision-making and medical epistemology.

Moral particularism is a philosophical tradition that emphasizes the significance of context in understanding the dynamics of practical rationality and decision-making. This parallels recent developments in debates over the role of judgement in professional ethics and medical epistemology. In particular, the evidence-based medicine (EBM) movement has made significant impact on thinking and policy regarding clinical reasoning, promoting the application of research-evidence from randomised controlled trials to clinical decision-making. There remains, however, a gap between the aspects of this model (and variants upon it) and the reality of decision-making in specific, complex and potentially unique cases. The implicit dichotomy between facts and values is at least questionable and arguably diagnosis is itself a process with irreducibly evaluative aspects (Boorse, 1975). Values-based Practice (VBP) is a clinical skills-based approach to working with complex and conflicting values in healthcare. It is a twin framework to evidence-based practice (EBP).

After long having been neglected, the possibility of applied moral particularism is once again being given serious consideration to effect a reappraisal of professional judgement. There has been a strong emphasis on partiality and the development of personal relationships in the field of bioethics and professional ethics (Feltham & Cottingham, 2010). Elsewhere in clinical medicine, there has been a renewed interest in the clinical skills-based methodologies of narrative medicine (Charon, 2001, 2996, 2008) and value-based practice (Fulford, passim). Nationally in the UK, in view of the Francis Report and the Secretary of State for Health’s initial response to the crisis in the Mid-Staffordshire Trust, the language of discernment, compassion, engagement and context which drives and motivates the distinctive particularist approach is also becoming increasingly important as a focus for debates over the moral and vocational nature of health care.

In light of these developments, the St Catherine Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care is convening an Advanced Seminar on the topic of Moral Particularism and Values-based Practice to re-assesses the significance of context in clinical decision-making and to catalyze awareness of patient’s experience of illness and healing. The central questions to which the seminar will be addressed include:

  • Can the language of narrative explanation better capture the moral problems confronted by medical professionals, or might it obfuscate and distract us from more subtle and demanding issues in cost-benefit analysis?
  • Is the appeal to particularism a recovery of a humanistic psychiatry’s moral compass, or a symptom of the undermining of the ethical foundations of health care provision?
  • Are there good reasons for thinking that applied moral particularism is possible as a bio-ethical theory? Is this limited to any particular methodology in health care research?
  • Is there an inevitable tension between particularist approaches and the nature of scientific explanation in psychiatry? Should adequate mental health care policy aim at reconciliation?

The Advanced Seminar will bring together emerging and established scholars who have made notable contributions to the reception of moral particularism in applied philosophy and the health care professions. The seminar also serves to launch the Values-based Theory Network of the St Catherine Collaborating Centre for Values-Based Practice in Health and Social Care.

The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice

The Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice was founded in 2015 and has been set up to support the development of values-based practice through shared learning. Based at St Catherine’s College in Oxford the Centre brings together a wide range of individuals and organisations working on different aspects of values-based practice around the world. Although originating primarily in mental health and social care a particular aim of the Collaborating Centre is to support extension of values-based approaches to other areas of health care such as surgery.

The work of the Centre is underpinned by an interactive website (, regular Advanced Studies Seminars, one-off collaborations and on-going programmes of work. The website provides information about those working within the centre, about the Centre’s activities, and about how to get involved (How Can I Get Involved?). The aim of our Advanced Studies Seminars is to provide a forum for cross-disciplinary discussion and development of ideas in cutting edge areas of working with values in health and social care.

The Advanced Seminar event at St Catherine’s has strong links with a series of workshops during 2015, led by Dr Bergqvist and sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, on the topics of ‘Particularism and Personalised Medicine’ (MMU, January 2015), ‘Particularism and Personal Medicine’ (Tilburg University, June 2015) and ‘Particularism and Professional Ethics’ (Oslo, September 2015). It also builds on previous collaborative research and teaching activities between Drs Bergqvist and Raustol on moral discernment and particularism in nursing.

Conference Support

The organiser gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Society of Applied Philosophy and the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice.


Registration by email to Anna Bergqvist at:

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Third Particularism in Bioethics Networking Workshop, Oslo 14 September

The third and concluding workshop of the first phase of the Particularism in Bioethics, Professional Ethics was held at Diakonhjemmet University College Oslo on 14 September 2015. The workshop, funded by a small research grant from the Wellcome Trust and held in association with the University of Oslo, focussed on the topic of Particularism in Professional Ethics. The local organiser was Dr Anne Raustol, Associate Professor of Nursing Ethics at DUC.


09:00-09:30: Welcome and registration

09:30-10:15: Phil Hutchington (MMU): ‘Radical Contextualism, Moral Particularism and the Clinical Encounter’.

10:15-10:30: Break

10:30-11:30: Ulrik Kihlbom (Uppsala): ‘Understanding Side-effect’;  Anne Raustøl (Diakonhjemmet): ‘Compassion and Practical Reasoning’ (20 mins each + discussion)

11:30-12:30: Lunch

12:30-13:15: Benedict Smith (Durham): ‘Moral Particularism and Empathy’.

13:15-13:30: Break

13:30-14:30: Marita Nordhaug (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences): ‘A Prerogative for Partiality in Nursing Care’; Jens Erik Paulsen (Oslo Police University College): ‘The Police: Particularists or (wo)men of Principle?’ (20 mins each + discussion)

14:30-14:45: Break

14:45-15:30: Per Nortvedt (Oslo): ‘Was E. Levinas a Particularist? And what is the relevance of his ethics of the other to professional ethics?’

15:30-15:45: Break

15:45-16:30: Anna Bergqvist (MMU): ‘Narrative and the First Person in Values-based Practice’

16:30-17:30: Roundtable discussion

19:00: Conference dinner at Nodee Asian Cooking, Majorstua, at 19:00. For those who want, we continue the conversations and discussions in the area over some drinks first.

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Second Particularism in Bioethics Networking Workshop, Tilburg 3 June

Second Networking Workshop of the Particularism in Bioethics, Professional Ethics and Medicine, Tilburg University 3 June 2015.

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In the Space of Reasons: Particularism and personalised medicine workshop, MMU

In the Space of Reasons: Particularism and personalised medicine workshop, MMU.

Tim Thornton’s insightful analysis of the conference proceedings.

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Particularism and personalised medicine – reflections on a conference

Thank you Andrew Shepherd for your reflections on the workshop – your forensic psychiatrist’s perspective was a tremendous asset!

shrinking thoughts

I attended a conference last week hosted at Manchester Metropolitan University – there is a link to the conference details here.

This was an interesting experience – I’ve attended more philosophically orientated conferences before and always enjoyed myself as they provide a very different form of discussion from most of the academic meetings I attend. Also this meeting was in the first week back after the festive period and I thought it might provide a good way of easing back into work again…

The meeting was held over two days – with talks throughout the first day and then morning talks on the second before a more general round table discussion over lunch and for the second afternoon. Unfortunately I had to leave slightly early on the first day as I had home commitments to attend to – slightly frustrating as the last talk of the day was proving…

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Conference speakers

Speaker photo

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