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: vbptheory@gmail.com

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: a.bergqvist@mmu.ac.uk.

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 (http://valuesbasedpractice.org), 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

Registration by email to Anna Bergqvist at: a.bergqvist@mmu.ac.uk

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