The Centre organises seminars, conferences and workshops, bringing together world leading experts, young researchers and students to tackle the key research issues in neuroethics.  Information on events in related fields, organised by associated research programmes, is also available here

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CONFERENCE: Conscience And Conscientious Objection In Healthcare

Conscience And Conscientious Objection In Healthcare

Dates: 23-24 November 2015

Venue: University of Oxford
Oxford Martin School,
Seminar Room 1
34 Broad Street,
Oxford OX1 3BD [map]

Organizers: Julian Savulescu (University of Oxford), Alberto Giubilini (Charles Sturt University), Steve Clarke (Charles Sturt University)

The Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics (University of Oxford) and the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (Charles Sturt University) will host a conference on conscientious objection in medicine and the role of conscience in healthcare practitioners’ decision making.

The conference aims at analyzing from a philosophical, ethical and legal perspective the meaning and the role of “conscience” in the healthcare profession. Conscientious objection by health professionals has become one of the most pressing problems in healthcare ethics. Health professionals are often required to perform activities that conflict with their own moral or religious beliefs (for example abortion). Their refusal can make it difficult for patients to have access to services they have a right to and, more in general, can create conflicts in the doctor-patient relationship. The widening of the medical options available today or in the near future is likely to sharpen these conflicts. The conference will see the participation of experts in bioethics, philosophy, law and medicine, who will explore the topic of conscientious objection in its different dimensions, and will try to suggest solutions.

Booking: Participation is free, but registration is required (seats are limited). To register, please follow this link and select this event. Please note lunch will not be provided but there are many places around Broad Street to eat in or take away.

The conference is supported by the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP 150102068). We are grateful to the Oxford Martin School for providing the venue for the conference.


9.15-9.30 Introduction: Julian Savulescu (University of Oxford)

9.30-10.15 Mark Wicclair (University of Pittsburgh): Reasons, moral integrity, and conscientious objection

10.15-11.00 Kimberley Brownlee (University of Warwick): Medicine and morally messy relationships

11.00-11.30 Coffee break

11.30-12.15 Julian Savulescu (University of Oxford): Conscience, values, and a reasonable range of options

12.15-13.00 Steve Clarke (Charles Sturt University): Two concepts of conscience and their implications for conscience-based refusal

Break for lunch.

14.00-14.45 Francesca Minerva (University of Ghent): Conscientious objection and complicity in wrongdoing

14.45-15.30 Roger Trigg (University of Oxford): Conscientious objection and 'effective referral'

(Please note that we are finishing relatively early on the first day to allow those interested to attend Hugh LaFollette’s Moral Philosophy Seminar at 16.30. Details of Prof LaFollette’s talk can be found at )


9.30-10.15 Jeanette Kennett (Macquarie University): Kant, conscience, and professional roles

10.15-11.00 Hugh LaFollette (University of South Florida St Petersburg): My conscience may be my guide, but you may not have to honour it

11.00-11.30 Coffee break

11.30-12.15 Alberto Giubilini (Charles Sturt University): Objection to conscience. On good and bad objections in medicine.

12.15-13.00 Dominic Wilkinson (University of Oxford): Conscientious non-objection and medical dissensus in intensive care

Break for lunch.

14.00-14.45 Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke University): We Want Kids, Too: Should Doctors be Allowed to Refuse to Help Gay Couples have Children?

14.45-15.30 Tom Douglas (University of Oxford): Refusing to treat sexual dysfunction in sex offenders

15.30-16.00 Coffee break

16.00-17.00 Roundtable: Katrien Devolder (University of Oxford), Jeff McMahan (University of Oxford), Richard Sorabji (University of Oxford)

Download programme [PDF]

Book Online

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SPECIAL LECTURE: Neurocognitive and Motivational Underpinnings of In-Group Bounded Cooperation

Week 7 – 25 November 2015, 5 - 6.30pm

Neurocognitive and Motivational Underpinnings of In-Group Bounded Cooperation

Speaker: Carsten K.W. De Dreu, University of Amsterdam (Department of Psychology and Center for Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making), and Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study

Abstract:  Human self-sacrificial decisions to cooperate with others are more frequent, and they emerge more automatically, when beneficiaries belong to one’s in-group, rather than to a more or less rivaling out-group. Using quantitative techniques that covered forty years of experimental work in social psychology, sociology, and experimental and behavioral economics, we found this in-group bias to be robust and universal. Subsequent experiments reveal this in-group bias to be (i) motivated by a desire to benefit the in-group and its members, rather than to hurt or derogate competing outgroups, (ii) stronger when cooperation protects the in-group against enemies, rather than facilitates subordination of rivaling out-groups, (iii) regulated by sub-cortical brain circuitries involved in emotion-regulation and heuristic decision-making more than by prefrontal networks implicated in controlled and calculated choice, and (iv) enhanced under increased availability of oxytocin, a hypothalamic neuropeptide involved in pair-bond formation, parent-offspring interactions, and maternal defense. Findings together resonate with the idea that humans are biologically prepared for in-group bounded cooperation, and that such in-group bias is motivated more by group survival and protection needs, than by opportunities for group prosperity and expansion.

Venue:  Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School, 34 Broad Street, Oxford

Booking:  Public event, all welcome, however booking is required

Organised and hosted by Oxford Martin Programme on Resource Stewardship (OMPORS)  

With support from The Oxford Centre for Neuroethics

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MT15 Loebel Lectures & Workshop


3, 4 and 5 November 2015, 6-8pm (booking required)

Series Title: The theoretical challenge of modern psychiatry: no easy cure

Steve Hyman

Speaker:  Steven E. Hyman, M.D. is director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as well as Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology....[more

Venue: Grove Auditorium, Magdalen College, Longwall Street*, Oxford OX1 4AU (*please note the auditorium can only be accessed via the Longwall Street entrance)..

All are welcome to attend these public lectures, but booking is required.  Please book online at and bring your booking confirmation to the event.  

Titles, abstracts and booking details here.  


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5 November 2015, 9.30am-5pm

We are pleased to announce details of a one-day event to complement our forthcoming Loebel Lectures. The aim of the workshop is to provide commentaries and discussion of the themes of Professor Steven Hyman's Loebel Lectures, 'The theoretical challenge of modern psychiatry: no easy cure', which will take place on the evenings of 3, 4 and 5 November 2015.

Registration: Both the lectures and the workshop are free to attend, but numbers are limited. Please book online at

Funding and organisation: The workshop is organised by The Oxford Loebel Lectures and Research Programme (OLLRP), with kind support from our sponsors, the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Oxford Martin School.

Venue: Oxford Martin School, Seminar Room 1, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BD


09.30-10.00 Arrival and Registration
10.00-10.45 Barbara Sahakian
10.45-11.00 COFFEE BREAK
11.00-11.45 Tim Thornton
11.45-12.30 Liz Meins
12.30-14.00 LUNCH (a sandwich lunch will be provided)
14.00-14.45 Derek Bolton
14.45-15.30 Sanneke De Haan
15.30-15.45 COFFEE BREAK
15.45-16.30 Jonathan Glover
16.30-17.00 Open Q&A with Hyman


Book Online


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2015 Wellcome & Loebel Lecture in Neuroethics

Tuesday 10 March 2015, 5.30-6.45pm (booking required)

We are pleased to announce that our 2015 Wellcome & Loebel Lecture in Neuroethics will be delivered by Professor Shaun Nichols of University of Arizona.  

Title: Death and the self

Abstract: Many revolutionary positions in philosophy – skepticism, materialism, hard determinism – have disturbing implications.  By contrast, the revolutionary idea that there is no persisting self is supposed to have generally beneficial consequences.  Insofar as the self does not persist, one should be more generous to others, less punitive, and have less fear of death.  This talk will report recent experiments indicating that changing beliefs about the persistence of self does affect generosity and punitiveness. For attitudes about the self and death, we examined responses from Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists and Westerners; the results are complex and surprising.

Shaun NicholsShaun Nichols is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on the psychological underpinnings of ordinary thinking about philosophical issues.He is the author of Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment (OUP, 2004) and co-author (with Stephen Stich) of Mindreading (OUP, 2003). He is editor of The Architecture of the Imagination (OUP, 2006) and co-editor of Experimental Philosophy (with Joshua Knobe; OUP, 2008; 2014). He has also published over 100 articles at the intersection of philosophy and psychology. 

Venue: Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, 34 Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3BD

Download flier (PDF).  Public event, all welcome but booking is required.  

Book Online

This lecture is jointly hosted by the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and the Oxford Loebel Lectures and Research Programme.

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