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UB Conference Examines Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine

Poster for conference on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine.

Release Date: July 25, 2013

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Plato’s Academy, North Tonawanda Campus (PANTC) Reading Group and the UB Department of Philosophy will present the conference “Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine” Aug. 2-3 on the University at Buffalo North Campus.

The conference, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in 280 Park Hall, will address four principle areas: death, brain death and the human identity problem; intention, consent and responsibility; health, development and disease; and harm, autonomy and policy.

The program can be found on the PhilEvents website: http://philevents.org/event/show/10807

PANTC is the real, but somewhat facetious name of a Western New York reading group in bioethics and the philosophy of medicine that has been meeting every month for the past few years in the back room of J.P. Bullfeathers restaurant on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. It is funded by the Hourani Fund in the UB philosophy department; most of the speakers at this conference are regular attendees. They include faculty members and graduate students from UB and faculty members from the philosophy departments of Fredonia State College, Niagara University and Canisius College.

The conference’s keynote address, “Abortion and Thomson’s People vs. Seeds Case,” will be presented at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 2 by John Martin Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Riverside. Fischer teaches ethics, philosophy of law, theories of distributive justice and philosophy of religion, and serves as president of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association.

He is the author of many papers and essays on moral responsibility and free will, including “Abortion and self-determination” (1991) and “Abortion, autonomy and control over one’s body” (2003).

His talk will address the arguments made in “A Defense of Abortion,” a famous essay first published in 1971 by moral philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson in which she employs thought experiments to argue for the moral permissibility of induced abortion. Her imaginative examples and controversial conclusions have made the paper what philosopher William Parent calls perhaps “the most widely reprinted essay in all of contemporary philosophy.”

Speakers from the UB Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, include:

  • Bioethicist David Hershenov, PhD, professor, department chair and conference co-chair
  • Barry Smith, PhD, professor and director of the National Center for Ontological Research, who will speak about “Diseases, Diagnoses, Signs and Symptoms” in various ontologies of medicine
  • Lewis Powell, assistant professor of philosophy, an specialist in early modern philosophy and the philosophy of language
  • Catherine Nolon, UB graduate student in philosophy, who is conducting research on the metaphysics and ethics of organ donation
  • Peter Koch, UB graduate student in philosophy and author of “An Alternative to an Alternative to Brain Death” in the Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (2009)
  • Yuichi Minemura, UB graduate student and lecturer in philosophy, who focuses on the metaphysical foundations of modern controversies regarding brain death.

In addition, Stephen Wear, PhD, UB associate professor of medicine, will speak about “Informed Consent: Theory and Practice.” Wear teaches the philosophy of medicine and is co-director of the Center for Clinical Ethics and Humanities in Health Care.

Representatives from the philosophy departments of Niagara University, Fredonia State College and Canisius College also will speak at the conference. They are:

  • Conference co-chair James Delaney, PhD, associate professor of philosophy at Niagara University, a specialist in ethics and, recently, topics in biomedical ethics
  • Philip Reed, PhD, assistant professor of philosophy, Canisius College, whose writing and research lies mainly in the areas of ethics and  justice
  • Rose Koch-Hershenov, PhD, adjunct professor, Department of Philosophy, Niagara University
  • Neil Feit, PhD, professor and chair, Department of Philosophy, Fredonia State College, whose research interests are philosophy of mind,  philosophy of language, metaphysics and value theory
  • John Keller, PhD, assistant professor of philosophy, Niagara University, who specializes in metaphysics and philosophy of language
  • Steve Kershnar, PhD, professor, Fredonia State College, a specialist in political philosophy, legal philosophy and ethics.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan
Senior Editor, Arts, Humanities, Public Health, Social Sciences
Tel: 716-645-4602
pdonovan@buffalo.edu