The Romanell Center hosts speakers, lectures, conferences, debates, and other events which are usually are free and open to the public. Given precautions required during Covid-19, there are no in-person events scheduled at this time. For information about our events, contact David Hershenov,

Photograph: Romanell Workshop on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine, May 11, 2019.

Photograph: Romanell Workshop on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine, 2019. 

Photograph: The February 2020 Workshop presentation, "Identity, Integration, and Transitivity of Identity: A Puzzle about the Existence of the Early Embryo”, by David Hershenov included his original visual aides.

Photograph: The February 2020 Workshop presentation, "Identity, Integration, and Transitivity of Identity: A Puzzle about the Existence of the Early Embryo”, by David Hershenov included his original visual cues.


PENDING Saturday Workshops to be rescheduled, and may include previously confirmed participants:

Elizabeth Victor (William Paterson University) “Autonomy and Risk Assessment in Prison-based Research”

Steve Kershnar (Fredonia, Romanell Fellow) “Informed Consent: Circularity, Paradox, & Information as a Commodity”  

David Hershenov (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center) “Why Bioethicists Should Reject Psychological & Hybrid Accounts of Personal Identity”

Alex Gillham (St. Bonaventure) Topic: "Epicureanism and Deprivationism."

Shane Hemmer (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center) “Personal Identity and Well-Being”

Lauren Freeman (Louisville) and Heather Stewart (Western) “Self-Identity: Microagressions in Medical Contexts: Understanding Experiences of Fat, Trans, and Non-Binary Patients”

David Hershenov (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center) “A Critique of True Self Views in Bioethics”

Jason Eberl (Saint Louis University) “Disability, Enhancement, and Flourishing”

Chandra Kavanagh (McMaster University) “A Phenomenological Hermeneutic Resolution to the Principilist-Narrative Bioethics Debate”

Christopher Riddle (Utica College) "Disability and Assisted Dying: On the Demands of Morality and Justice"

Michael Rembis (University at Buffalo and Disability Studies Center Director) “A Short History of Modern Medicine and Disability”

David Hershenov (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center) “Some Conceptual Problems with the Mere Difference View of Disability”

Michael French (University of New Haven) “The Dehumanized Mind: Shifting Purposes and Potentials in Psychiatric Treatment”

Monica Consolandi (University Vita-Salute S. Raffaele “Communicating Scientific Evidence in Doctor/Patient Interactions: A Bioethics Problem?”

Jeremy Davis (West Point) “Value Promotion as a Goal of Medicine”

Stephen Napier (Villanova) “A Defense of Local Skepticism: Peer Disagreement, Moral Risk, and Total Evidence”


* To receive email announcements of all Romanell events and to automatically receive advance copies of all presentations, send an email to David H at with the subject heading “Romanell listserve

Recent Workshop

Saturday, February 15, 2020 Workshop
Park Hall 141, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

10:00-11:00 Kurt Blankschaen (Daemen College). “Lying in Blood”

11:15-12:15 Pat Daly (Boston College – Lonergan Institute) “Making Sense of Genetic Risk”

12:30-1:30 David Hershenov (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center) “Identity, Integration, and Transitivity of Identity: A Puzzle about the Existence of the Early Embryo”

2:30-3:30 Phil Reed (Canisius College, Romanell Center) "The Closeness of Self-Killing and Self-Sacrifice"

3:45-4:45. Kriszta Sajber (Misericordia University) “The Case of Ellen West’s Suicide: Authenticity and Physician-Assisted Suicide of Patients with Mental Illness”

5:00-6:00 Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia, Romanell Center) “Puzzles in desert-adjusted QALYs: Circularity, recursion, and geometry”


July 30-August 1, 2020: Eighth Annual Summer Romanell Conference

Thursday, July 30, 2020
The Metaphysical Foundations of Bioethics and Medicine

9:30-10:00 Breakfast

10:00-11:00 Shane Hemmer (University at Buffalo) - Topic Personal Identity and well-being

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:15 Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall, Romanell Fellow) - Topic TBA

12:15-1:15 Lunch

1:15-2:15 Neil Feit, (SUNY Fredonia, Romanell Fellow) Topic: Death and Time

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-3:30 Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia, Romanell Fellow) – “Consequentialism Goes Down and Goes Down Hard: Neil Feit, Bobby Knight, Peyton Manning, and Similarity Silver Bullet”

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-5:45 Chris Boorse (University of Delaware Emeritus) Keynote #1 Human Nature


Friday, July 31, 2020
Philosophy of Medicine Lectures

9:30-10:00 Breakfast

10:00-11:00 Pat Daly (Boston College, Lonergan Institute) Topic : Risk factors and disease

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:15 Yuichi Minemura (Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine) “Mental Disorder and the Hybrid Account”

12:15-1:15 Lunch

1:15-2:15 David Hershenov (UB, Romanell Fellow) “Defining addiction without the loss of control”

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-3:30 Barry Smith (University at Buffalo, Romanell Fellow) “Jordan Peterson on Depression”

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-5:45 Chris Boorse (University at Delaware Emeritus) Keynote #2 on the Distinction between risk factors and disease

Saturday August 1, 2020
Bioethics Lectures

 9:30-10:00 breakfast

 10:00-11:00 Adam Taylor (University of North Dakota, Romanell Fellow) - topic: no duty to cure disease

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:15 Jason Eberl (Saint Louis University) Topic TBA

12:15-1:15 Lunch

1:15-2:15 Jack Freer (University at Buffalo Medical School emeritus) Topic: TBA

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-3:30 Harvey Berman (University at Buffalo Medical School, Romanell Fellow) “Medicine after the Holocaust”

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-5:45 Phil Reed (Canisius College, Romanell Fellow) vs. Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia, Romanell Center)
Debate- “Should Physician-assisted suicide be Legalized?”



Fall 2019 Events

Themes from Wear: Romanell Center Workshop

Themes from Wear: November 16, 2019 Romanell Workshop speakers (pictured left to right): Jonathan Vajda, Jack Freer, Tim Madigan, Patricia Marino, Harvey Berman, Peter Koch, Shane Hemmer, and Larry McCullough. .

Themes from Wear: November 16, 2019 Romanell Workshop speakers (pictured left to right): Jonathan Vajda, Jack Freer, Tim Madigan, Patricia Marino, Harvey Berman, Peter Koch, Shane Hemmer, and Larry McCullough.

Saturday November 16, “Themes from Wear” — Workshop in Honor of Steve Wear’s Retirement

Location: Park Hall 141, UB North Campus; 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

1. Lawrence McCullough (Baylor University, Hofstra University) Topic TBA

2. Jonathan Vajda (University at Buffalo) "Problems Representing Permissions: Informed Consent and Deontic Roles." 

3. Tim Madigan (Saint John Fisher College, Romanell Center) “Ingelfinger Redux: Is Informed Consent a Polite Fiction?”

4. Peter Koch (Villanova University, Romanell Center) “Why Ethics Consultants should be Cowboys and Break the Law”

5. Shane Hemmer (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center, Veterans Administration) “Moral Diversity and Conscientious Objection"

6. Patricia Marino (University of Waterloo) “Moral Pluralism, Bioethics, and the Complexities of Informed Consent”

Fall 2019 Lectures & Workshops

September 4, 2019, Lecture
Wednesday, 3:00 pm, Jacobs Medical School 2220
Alex London
 (Carnegie Mellon)
“AI, Adaptive Trials and Ethics: Can We Integrate Innovation, Rigor, and the Best Interests of Study Participants?”  
Abstract: Scientific innovation is not limited to the development and evaluation of novel products, procedures, or technologies. Scientific innovation also occurs within the trial designs and statistical methods used to evaluate and assess new technologies. Just as we are considering how to evaluate machine learning and artificial intelligence systems that make diagnostic or prognostic decisions once reserved solely for clinicians, the standard fixed size, randomized clinical trial is being challenged as the scientific gold standard by novel study designs that involve a range of adaptive design features. In this talk I will describe a set of values that should govern research with human subjects and outline an argument to the effect that these values cannot all be satisfied at the same time. If this argument is true, it would have profound implications for the methods that could ethically be used to evaluate novel interventions and for the type of study designs that could be used in that process. I argue that this argument rests on a very plausible but ultimately mistaken assumption about how we should think about and model uncertainty in medical research. The ethical and scientific consequences of this result are explored in the context of evaluating AI systems and deploying adaptive clinical trial designs.

Saturday, September 28, 2019 Workshop
Park Hall 141, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

10:00-11:00. Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia, Romanell Center) “Can the Counterfactual do the Work Required of it by the Counterfactual Comparative Theory of Harm?” 

11:15-12:15. Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall, Romanell Center) “Annihilation isn't Bad For You"

12:30-1:30. Alex Gillham (St Bonaventure University) “A Dilemma for the Impairment Argument”

2:30-3:3.0  David Hershenov (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center) “The I’m Personally Opposed to Abortion But…Argument”

3:45-4:45. Jonathan Livengood, Nir Ben Moshe, Ben Levinstein (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) “Probability and Informed Consent”

5:00-6:00. Michael Fiorica (University of Southern California) “Like Clockwork: Normal Functioning, Mental Illness and Criminal Insanity 


Wednesday, October 16, 2019, Debate
6:00 pm, 20 Knox Hall 20
Should Physician-Assisted Suicide be Legal?
Dr. Stephen Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia Philosophy Department Chair)
Dr. Phillip Reed (Canisius College Philosophy Department Chair)

Saturday, October 26, Workshop


Location: Park Hall 141, UB North Campus

9:30-10:00 Breakfast 

10:00-11:00. Steve McAndrew (University at Buffalo) "Internal Morality of Medicine and Physician Autonomy”

11:15-12:15. Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia, Romanell Center) “Does Bioethics Rest on a Crumbling Foundation? Rights in the Crosshair”

12:30-1:30. Neil Feit (SUNY Fredonia, Romanell Center) “Counterfactuals and Comparative Harm” 

1:30-2:30 Lunch

2:30-3:30 David Hershenov (University at Buffalo, Romanell Center) “An Alternative to the Pro-Life Rational Substance View”

3:45-4:45 Don Marquis (University of Kansas) "Potentiality, Abortion, and the Wrongness of Killing" 

5:00-6:00 John Lizza (Kutztown University) “Potentiality, Futures of Value, and Abortion” 

July 25, 26, 27, 2019


John M. Fischer.

John M. Fischer

Keynote by John Martin Fischer 
(UC Riverside)
"Near-Death Experiences:
To the Edge of the Universe"


About the speaker:
John Fischer’s main research interests lie in free will, moral responsibility, and both metaphysical and ethical issues pertaining to life and death. He is the author of The Metaphysics of Free Will: An Essay on Control; with Mark Ravizza, Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility; and My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility. His recent work includes a contribution to Four Views on Free Will (in Blackwell’s Great Debates in Philosophy series) and three collections of essays all published by Oxford University Press: My Way: Essays on Moral ResponsibilityOur Stories: Essays on Life, Death, and Free Will; and Deep Control: Essays on Free Will and ValueSee faculty profile.

Poster by Antonette Nolan, 2019.

Poster by Antonette Nolan, 2019.

Conference Schedule

DAY I: Thursday, July 25 - DEATH

9:30-10:00 Breakfast

10:00-11:00 Talk #1 Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall) “The Timing Problem is Nota Problem

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:15 Talk #2 Jim Delaney (Niagara University) “Hope, Unrealistic Optimism & Autonomy”

12:15-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 Talk #3 Tim Madigan (Saint John Fisher College) “When a Body Meets a Body: The Ethics of Displaying Human Cadavers”

2:00-2:15 Break 

2:15-3:15 Talk #4 Phil Reed (Canisius College) “Suicide by Doc” 

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-4:30 Talk #5 Adam Taylor (University of North Dakota, Fargo) "Death, Immortality, and Monism about Persons”

4:30-4:45 Break

4:45-6:15 Keynote Talk #6 John Martin Fischer (UC Riverside)."Near-Death Experiences: To the Edge of the Universe"

DAY II: Friday July 26 -

9:30-10:00 Breakfast 

10:00-11:15 Talk #1 Jonathan Vajda (UB Philosophy Grad) – “Creating Human/Non-Human Chimeras”

11:15-11:30 Break

11:30-12:45 Talk #2 Barry Smith (UB Philosophy) “Minds made of Software vs. Minds made of Flesh”

12:45-2:45 Lunch and Discussion of John Fischer’s “Responsibility and Autonomy: the Problem of Mission Creep” and “The Frankfurt-Style Cases: Extinguishing the Flickers of Freedom”

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00-4:15 Talk #3 David Hershenov (UB Philosophy) “Thinking Animals or Thinking Brains?” 

4:15-4:30 Break

4:30-5:45 Talk #4 Shane Hemmer (UB Philosophy Grad). "Personal Identity and Autonomy" 


DAY III: Saturday July 27 - DISEASE

9:30-10:00 Breakfast

10:00-11:15 Talk #1 Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia English or Political Science). “Heaven, Drab Eternity, and Everlasting Life: How Should Christians Prioritize Lifesaving Medical Resources?”

11:15-11:30 Break 

11:30-12:45 Talk #2 Pat Daly (Boston College Lonergan Institute). "Risk Factors and Disease."  

12:45-1:45 Lunch

1:45-3:00 Talk #3 Eric Merrell (UB Philosophy Grad Student). “Capacities and Brain Processes”  

3:00-3:15 Break

3:15-4:30 Talk #4 David Limbaugh (UB Philosophy Department Postdoc). “Warranted Diagnosis”

Drafts of the papers will be available on July 18. To request any or all of the papers, send an email to

Full Program with Paper Abstracts and Participant Bios




10:00-11:00Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall) “The Timing Problem is Not a Problem”

Abstract: Deprivationists hold that death is bad for the person who dies because, and to the extent that, it deprives them of the net good they would have accrued were their actual death not to occur. The Timing Problem is thought to be the biggest challenge facing deprivationism. That is, deprivationists face the challenge of locating the time that death is bad for a person. Every possible answer to this question has been defended in the literature, yet each answer can seemingly be shown to be subject to compelling objections. In this paper, I argue that the force of the Timing Problem is illusory. Specifically, I argue that the problem, as formulated in the literature, is underspecificed. Any adequately precise form of the question “When is death bad for the person who dies?” is one to which deprivationists have a clear, decisive, and unproblematic answer. 

Bio: Travis Timmerman is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Seton Hall University. His work primarily focuses on death, the actualism/possibilism debate in ethics, global poverty, and animal welfare. Presentations at the University at Buffalo that have turned into publications include The Problem with Person-Rearing Accounts of Moral Status (co-authored with Bob Fischer) in Thought (2019), A Dilemma for Epicureanism in Philosophical Studies (2019),  Save (Some of) the Children in Philosophia and You’re Probably Not Really A Speciesist in Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (2018). He owes much of his success in publishing these papers to the excellent comments he received from his fellow Romanell Center colleagues and to the journal referees who were too lazy or incompetent to catch the numerous devastating mistakes contained in each of the aforementioned papers. 

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:15 Jim Delaney (Niagara University) “Hope, Unrealistic Optimism & Autonomy”

Abstract: In medical ethics, there is an important distinction between a patient’s or research subject’s being realistically hopeful and her being “unrealistically optimistic.” The latter state can also be expressed as “self deception” or as “being in denial.” Generally speaking, being realistically hopeful is thought to be a positive state, one to be encouraged. Additionally, the loss of all hope is complete despair or perhaps complete apathy, states that we want patients to avoid. Thus in medicine and in general, we encourage people to “never give up hope.” By contrast, being unrealistically optimistic is normally understood as a negative state, and traditionally one that healthcare professionals ought to correct in their patients. One standard argument for this traditional view is that unrealistic optimism is bad because it undermines patient autonomy. In this paper, I defend this argument against a recent challenge. I therefore conclude that respect for patient autonomy remains a significant concern for patients who are unrealistically optimistic. 

Bio: James Delaney is a Professor of philosophy and director of the Ostapenko Center for Ethics in Medicine and Healthcare at Niagara University. He works primarily in ethics and bioethics. Remarkably, some of his previous PANTC/Romanell papers have been published in respectable journals. He attributes this to the quality of the feedback he gets from the much brighter members of the Romanell Center.

12:15-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:00 Tim Madigan (Saint John Fisher College) “When a Body Meets a Body: The Ethics of Displaying Human Cadavers”

Abstract: Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Body Snatcher” and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein both address the very real phenomenon of body snatching (best exemplified by the real-life case of Burke and Hare, the “resurrection men”) which was endemic in early 18th century England. I will discuss the medical demands for cadavers, as well as the interesting reasons why the philosopher Jeremy Bentham had his body put on display in the front foyer of the University of London shortly after his death in 1832, where it still remains, as an attempt to encourage people to donate their bodies to science. I will also address recent examples of “body snatching” in cases where human remains and tissues have been stolen and sold for profit, as well as the phenomenon of such exhibits as Gunther van Hagens’ “Body Worlds” – should cadavers be displayed and, if so, what – if any – should be the ethical limitations on such practices? In particular, what role does consent play when it is obvious that the dead can’t consent?

Bio: Timothy J. Madigan is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, and the founder of its Irish Studies Program. He received his Ph.D. degree in philosophy from the State University of New York at Buffalo, as well as M.A. and B.A. degrees from the same institution. Dr. Madigan is the author of W. K. Clifford and “The Ethics of Belief” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010); and co-author of Friendship & Happiness and the Connection Between Them (McFarland, 2017), Lessons Learned from Popular Culture (SUNY Press, 2016), The Sociology of Sports: An Introduction (McFarland, 2015), Beyond Sustainability: A Thriving Environment (McFarland, 2014), and Sports: Why People Love Them! (University Press of America, 2009). He is also an editor of A Global Perspective on Friendship and Happiness (Vernon Press, 2018), Bertrand Russell: Public Intellectual (Tiger Bark Press, 2016), Lucretius: His Continuing Influence and Contemporary Relevance (RIT Press, 2011), and Promethean Love (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008). Dr. Madigan’s areas of interest include Medical Ethics, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, and Popular Culture and Philosophy. He is a Fellow of the University at Buffalo’s Romanell Center for Clinical Ethics and the Philosophy of Medicine, the President of the Bertrand Russell Society, and the former President of the Northeast Popular Culture Association. He received the St. John Fisher College Trustees’ Distinguished Scholars Award for 2013, a Moore Institute Fellowship from the National University of Ireland-Galway in 2015, and a Richmond Fellowship from Richmond University in Rome, Italy in 2018.

2:00-2:15 Break 

2:15-3:15 Phil Reed (Canisius College) “Suicide by Doc”

Abstract: I argue in this paper that voluntary euthanasia is suicide. When a doctor (or other third party) kills you with your consent, you have committed suicide despite the fact that we would not typically describe this occurrence as a suicide. I observe several important consequences of this position for matters related to assisted death. 

Bio: Philip Reed is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Canisius College, where he works on ethics, applied ethics, and moral psychology. He recently agreed to be Chair of his department despite hearing David Hershenov complain about being Chair for years. His and Hershenov’s paper, “How Not to Defend the Unborn,” will be published posthumously in Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. His 2017 Romanell Conference paper was also accepted by the same journal and will be published in their special Editor’s Confidential Collection edition. His 2018 Romanell Conference paper, “How Suicide and Assisted Suicide Overlap,” currently has two outstanding R&Rs, neither of which is at JMP. His 2016 Romanell Conference paper, “Is ‘Aid-in-Dying’ Suicide?” was finally published this year in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics after spending years being rejected by many fine journals (though not by JMP). Even getting the paper in TMB required a stringent review process by the managing editor. A condensed, popular version of that paper was published in a local newspaper, which provoked a letter to the editor accusing Reed of being a pompous, self-congratulatory associate professor who sets foot in the homes of other people and tells them they have to suffer because of his religion. However, in September he will be promoted to full professor.

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-4:30 Adam Taylor (University of North Dakota, Fargo) "Death, Immortality, and Monism about Persons”

Abstract: Pluralism About Persons (PAP) is the view according to which the basic ontology (whether we conceive of it as essentially physical, or mental, or some combination of these) contains a plurality of personal subjects that can possess properties but are not themselves properties of any more fundamental being(s).  Monism About Persons (MAP) is the view according to which the basic ontology contains only a single personal subject. Nihilism About Persons (NAP) is the view according to which the basic ontology contains no personal subjects. Contemporary debates in metaphysics and bioethics largely assume PAP, while Humean and Buddhist thinkers have favored NAP, but recent work on monism, panpsychism, and cosmopsychism have begun to make MAP seem more attractive. MAP has a surprisingly respectable philosophical pedigree both in the West and in the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Indian philosophy. In section 1, I discuss some recent work on monism, cosmopsychism, and panpsychism, and show how it supports MAP. In section 2,  I discuss in very basic terms the ontology of Advaita Vedanta and its conception of the human person. In section 3, I suggest some revisions to the traditional view. In section 4, I conclude by discussion how we might apply MAP to some contemporary bioethical questions involving death and immortality. If MAP is true, then I will suggest, that (i) death is not intrinsically harmful to persons (though for reasons very different from those of Epicurus), (ii) contra Williams et al immortality does not imply tedium/boredom.  

Bio: Adam Taylor is a UB Philosophy alumnus (2014). Since 2013, he has been a full-time Lecturer in philosophy and ethics at North Dakota State University in Fargo. He also serves as a scholar the Northern Plains Ethics Institute at NDSU and member of the Romanell Center for Clinical Ethics and the Philosophy of Medicine at UB. His primary research interests include fundamental ontology, personal identity, ethics (particularly well-being), Indian Philosophy, and disagreeing vehemently with any view defended by Stephen Kershnar. He wishes to make it clear that the highly speculative metaphysical views he will be discussing in his talk are relatively recent developments that should in no way reflect on the quality of his graduate training, they did their best.

4:30-4:45 Break

4:45-6:15 Keynote John Martin Fischer (UC Riverside). "To the Edge of the Universe: The Trip of an After-lifetime”

Abstract: Most people who have had near-death experiences (NDEs) interpret them "supernaturalistically" (as showing that the mind separates itself from the body and then takes a voyage to a heavenly realm).  Two famous recent books are: Proof of Heaven and Heaven is for Real.  Near-death experiences are indeed "real"--they really occur with the contents reported by those who have these experiences.  But do they establish that the mind is a soul that is not identical to the brain?  Do they show that "heaven is for real" and that there is an afterlife? I address these questions and provide a novel interpretation of NDEs--an interpretation that takes the reports seriously and respects the sincerity of NDErs, but also offers a naturalistic approach to these fascinating phenomena.

Bio: John Fischer is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, where he is a University Professor in the University of California.  He was the Project Leader of the Immortality Project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation (2012-15).  He is the author, most recently, of Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife (Oxford University Press, 2016) [with Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin]; and Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Life (Oxford University Press, 2020--but it is out already [time travel?})


DAY II – FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019 - PARK HALL 141


9:30-10:00 Breakfast 

10:00-11:15 Jonathan Vajda (UB Grad Student) – “Creating Human/Non-Human Chimeras”

Abstract:I argue that prohibitions against acts of creating, researching, and organ harvesting from human-nonhuman chimeras may be justified in virtue of certain rights holders. I consider some potential justifications for prohibition, but find them to be ineffective. Some of these justifications find a parallel in arguments against stem cell research or against abortion. Yet in the case of chimera creation and research, prohibitions may be warranted in light of unique problems at the intersection of non-human animal ethics and person-based ethics. From these latter considerations, I defend the view that (a) in some cases, chimeras ought to be protected from being used in research or for organ harvesting, and (b) in some cases, chimeras ought not be created with the intended purpose of use in research or organ harvesting.

Bio:  Bio: Jonathan Vajda is a PhD candidate in philosophy at University at Buffalo. While he has attended countless talks funded by Romanell in the past, all such cases, without exception, are liable to be construed nothing less than mooching. He holds an MA in philosophy at Western Michigan University, and an MA in religion from Westminster Theological Seminary; this has lead David Hershenov to believe that Jonathan should know better. Jonathan's research interests are largely historical (early modern metaphysics as it relates to medieval realism about universals), but he appears to pretend to be interested in biomedical ethics for the sake of Romanell finger foods and because he has some delusion about his future prospects on the academic job market. He also does adequate professional work in applied ontology. He is a research assistant to two professors who do not want to be named in this 

11:15-11:30 Break

11:30-12:45 Barry Smith (SUNY Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and  Julian Park Chair)  “Minds made of Software vs. Minds made of Flesh”

Abstract: The proponents of Transhumanism sometimes argue that human immortality will one day be achieved, because we will one day be in a position to download the contents of our brains into a computer. We would then, somehow, live on, perhaps in the manner of Neo in The Matrix, engaging in endless virtual kickboxing contests with the virus-like Agent Smith. This scenario assumes, however, that human personality, intentions and motives are the sorts of things that can be captured in a digital artifact in such a way that they could, as it were, live on, seamlessly, after the downloading has taken place. This assumption is total nonsense. I will provide arguments against this assumption, drawing on the many impediments already identified to building computers that would manifest human-like behavior. 

Bio: Barry Smith works on ontology in a variety of areas, currently including proteomics, intelligence analysis, and digital manufacturing.

12:45-2:45 Lunch and Discussion of John Fischer’s “Responsibility and Autonomy: the Problem of Mission Creep” and “The Frankfurt-Style Cases: Extinguishing the Flickers of Freedom”

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00-4:15 David Hershenov (UB Philosophy) “Thinking Animals or Thinking Brains?” 

Abstract: Unlike the other presentations at this year’s Romanell conference, David Hershenov’s paper cannot be distilled into a brief summary that does justice to its depth, scope, originality, intricacy, and insight. But after Steve Kershnar begged him for an advance copy so he could spend weeks studying it - Kershnar feared the paper would destroy all of his assumptions about personal identity - he decided to use Kershnar’s own caricature of his seminal work taken from Kershnar’s feeble response. Kershnar wrote: “Hershenov claims that it is the animal, not a part such as the brain or cerebrum that strictly produces thought. Hershenov argues that if people are not animals, but small proper parts of animals, then pace McMahan and Parfit, there is still a threat of spatially coincident thinkers. This can only be avoided at the cost of the sparsest of ontologies, one in which there are no larger entities that can become reduced to the size of the brain or cerebrum-size thinker. Likewise, there can’t be any smaller entities like cerebral hemispheres that the brain or cerebrum can be reduced to in size. This will be a rather implausible ontology as such thinkers won’t fit well into the natural world, meet traditional independence or unity criteria for being substances, nor provide a compositional principle with causal glue. The intuitive support that cerebrum transplants and dicephalic twins provide for identifying ourselves with our brain parts is less than the advocates of embedded minds claim. Not only can alternative thought experiments elicit intuitions to the contrary, the Embodied Mind View runs afoul on the only x and y rule in fission cases, while Animalism does not. The importance of the brain in the production of thought has been confused with its being the thinker. There is no way to distinguish parts of the animal being directly involved in the production of thought from those animal parts that are not.”

Bio: Although a very good philosopher, David Hershenov is a lousy teacher and bad colleague. His views on personal identity are as infallible as a Papal Pronouncement of Church Dogma, but his ability to teach others the truths he has discovered is very poor as evidenced by the fact that none of his doctoral students defend Animalism in their dissertations but instead write nonsense in favor of Constitution, Cartesianism, Hylomorphism, Four Dimensionalism, and the Embodied Mind View.. His Romanell colleagues also continue to defend such schlock, proof that Hershenov fails as a colleague as well as a teacher. His paper at last year’s Romanell conference “If Fetuses are Parts of their Mothers, then Three Popular Defenses of Abortion Fail on Merely Conceptual Grounds” was submitted to Thought. The journal’s managing editor emailed him after a couple of months that they couldn’t yet find a referee and asked Hershenov if he wanted to withdraw it. The email said that if he didn’t withdraw it, the journal would give him a verdict in four months. He wrote back in four months and the managing editor of Thoughtjournal said they still had not found a referee and asked again if he wanted to withdraw it. He did so it could be published in the obscure conference proceedings of the University Faculty for Life where it will likely be unread for all eternity.

4:15-4:30 Break

4:30-5:45 Shane Hemmer (UB Philosophy Grad) "Personal Identity and Autonomy"

Abstract: There is a growing trend in metaphysics which seeks to bring out the ethical implications of various theories of personal identity and persistence over time, and evaluate those implications against our moral theories and theories of prudential reason. Metaphysical theories of personal identity which deliver counterintuitive or appalling moral conclusions are seen as deficient, and rightly so. Of particular interest are materialist theories of personal identity, such as the brain view, the embodied mind account, the neo-Lockean psychological view, the constitution account, and four dimensionalism. Each of these views is charged with a problem of too many thinkers, and thus a multiplication of subjects of moral rights and value. Hershenov and Taylor (2017) suggest that endorsing any of the theories in question would undermine our current ways of understanding moral status, interests, consent, and autonomy. They conclude that animalism, the view that each human person is identical with a human animal, is the best theory of personal identity, not only because it provides the best fit with our current understanding of morality, but also because it is the simplest and most intuitive account of what we are. I argue that the claims about autonomy endorsed by Hershenov and Taylor are too strong, and if correct, would render autonomous action impossible regardless of one’s theory of personal identity. HT’s view is that autonomy is not possible if one mistakenly believes oneself to be someone, or something, else (e.g., a person, rather than an animal). I will show that this assumption would render autonomy impossible on any theory of personal identity, regardless of whether or not that theory faces a problem of too many thinkers. Thus, if HT's claims about autonomy are correct, the animalist will face similar problems.

Bio: Shane Hemmer is a Ph.D. candidate at the University at Buffalo. He is writing a dissertation at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics on the topic of four dimensionalism and well-being. In addition to his work on the metaphysics of persistence and personal identity, Hemmer works on issues in bioethics and the philosophy of medicine. Hemmer has spent the past two years working as a clinical ethics consultant at the Buffalo VA Hospital with Dr. Steve Wear, and hopes to secure a job doing medical ethics professionally after completing his Ph.D.




9:30-10:00 Breakfast

10:00-11:15 Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia English or Political Science) “Heaven, Drab Eternity, and Everlasting Life: How Should Christians Prioritize Lifesaving Medical Resources?”

Abstract: Christians and Jews believe that God sends some people to heaven. In heaven, people have everlasting life. There is an issue as to how everlasting life affects medical decisions such as the distribution of scare medical resources. Problems arise if it is better for a person to be in heaven than it is for him to be alive during the time he would normally be alive, an afterlife has ever-increasing or infinite value (whether negative or positive value), and some people go permanently to hell. These problems worsen if a physician’s treatment can affect whether a patient goes to heaven, how well life the patient’s life goes in heaven, and whether the patient has more children who go to heaven. The problems get still worse if a physician’s treatment can have similar effects with regard to hell.

Bio:  Stephen Kershnar is a distinguished teaching professor in the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Fredonia and an attorney. He focuses on applied ethics and political philosophy. Kershnar has written over ninety articles and book chapters. He is the author of nine books, including Total Collapse: The Case Against Morality and Responsibility (Springer 2018), Abortion, Hell, and Shooting Abortion-Doctors: Does the Pro-Life Worldview Make Sense? (Routlege/Taylor & Francis Group, 2017), and Pedophilia and Adult-Child Sex: A Philosophical Defense (Lexington Books, 2015). In the past, he’s demonstrated that members of Buffalo Philosophy’s old boys club (see Jim Delaney, David Hershenov, John Keller, and Phil Reed) are either negligent or akratic in their support of freedom, God, Notre Dame, and souls. He and Bob Kelly think that this fact prevents them from being blameworthy for their 17th Century views. However, he wishes they weren’t so public in their support of newer ideas, such as that state universities ought to discriminate against women when hiring in philosophy, physicians may have sex with their in-shape female patients, some races are per capita more valuable than others, and adult-child sex  is permissible only when shot and distributed in HD videos. 

Romanell Center Disclaimer:  The Romanell Center reluctantly recognizes acknowledges Dr. Kershnar’s positive law right to express his repugnant views. However, the Romanell Center fervently believes that the conference audience has a God-given natural law right to pay no attention to what Dr. Kershnar says. So the Romanell Center has provided a cross word puzzle for the audience to fill out while ignoring Dr. Kershnar’s talk. Answers are on the last page of the program


1. Dr. Kershnar claimed that John Fischer’s defense of a duty to support Thomson’s violinist committed him to having a duty to undergo painful ___ if it would save someone’s life 

2. Offended members of what University Colorado department took accused Dr Kershnar of racism in his screed against affirmative action prior to the ROME conference? 

3. Dr. Kershnar believes what woman philosopher is underrated? 

4.Kershnar irritated which keynoter when he told her in his talk that she had a consequentialist- based duty to keep getting pregnant so there would be more intelligent people in the world?

5. Dr. Kershnar believes the Clinton Administration protection of ___ was a war crime after Yugoslavia broke up 

6. The military academy at which Dr. Kershnar gave a talk claiming we didn’t owe veterans gratitude

7-8. Dr. Kershnar believes that it was unjust for the ___ to invade the__ in its Civil War 


1. Kershnar has written a disgusting book trying to debunk the human right not to be __

2. Dr. Kershnar believes pro-lifers are committed to assassinating __

3. Dr. Kershnar claims that there is no such thing as exploitation and if there was it would not be __

4. Dr. Kershnar believes that it was a mistake of the US to fight the __ in the 1940s

5.  Dr. Kershnar went to what military academy and said it should be shut down and replaced with ROTC but if it stayed open, it should discriminate again women applicants.

6. Dr. Kershnar believes that Christian pro-lifers should __ their children to guarantee that they go to heaven

7. He whose name will not be uttered has written an evil  book defending adults having sex with __                           




                              _      2D

                       1A_ _ _ _ _ _




                              _ 3D        4D

                         2A                _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _                                      5D 

                                  _      3A_ _ _ _ _ _ _       _           

                                                  _                _                          _                

                                  _ 6D4A__ _ _ _ _        7D_

                       5A_ _  _ _ _ _  _        6A_  _ _  _

                                  _       _                       _                                 

                                            _                   7A  _ _ _ _ _         

                                             _                       _

                                             _                      _   

                                                                   8A_  _ _ _ _

(see puzzle answers at end of program)                                                                      


11:15-11:30 Break 

11:30-12:45 Pat Daly (Boston College Lonergan Institute). "Risk Factors and Disease."  

Abstract: The problematic relation between risk factors and disease remains a contested issue in contemporary philosophy of medicine.  In this paper, I present a way to understand risk factors and disease as complementary perspectives on the dynamic unfolding of generically distinct levels of organismic functioning and the ecological context within which organismic functioning unfolds.  I begin by comparing the notions of risk factor and disease in several contemporary accounts.  Next I show a way to relate them in terms of Lonergan’s account of functional and statistical investigation and his hierarchical account of world order. In doing so, I address the question of the intelligibility of statistical relations (as opposed to their being a cloak for ignorance) and the problem of demarcating distinct boundaries between normal and abnormal function.  Finally I evaluate the positions of Christopher Boorse and one of his critics, Élodie Giroux, on pathophysiological (functional) and epidemiological (risk-based) analysis from the standpoint of my account of the complementary relationship of these modes of investigation in support of my conclusion that risk factors and disease do in fact form a dynamic duo. 

Bio: Patrick Daly is a research associate at the Lonergan Institute at Boston College, where he is working on a long-term project to develop a philosophy of health based on Bernard Lonergan’s generalized empirical method (GEM). After practicing internal medicine and palliative medicine for 35 years, he completed an MA in philosophy at Boston College in 2013 and retired from medical practice in order to write fulltime.  He has published a number of articles and reviews in philosophy of medicine and bioethics.  Most recently, his paper “The GEM model: a model of health based on generalized empirical method” has been accepted for publication in the European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare.  He thinks of his project along the lines of Don Quixote tilting at the windmills of contemporary philosophy of medicine.  Not sure that I have dented anyone’s notion of reality, but that’s ok since I’m really having fun.

12:45-1:45 Lunch

1:45-3:00 Eric Merrell (UB Grad Student) “Capacities and Brain Processes” 

Abstract: We propose capability as a universal or type intermediate between function and disposition. A capability is, broadly speaking, a disposition that is of a type whose instances can be evaluated on the basis of how well they are realized. A function, on the view we are proposing, is a capability the possession of which is the rationale for the existence of its bearer. To say for example that a water pump has the function to pump water is to say that the pump exists because something was needed that would pump water. A water pump may have many capabilities, including: to be weatherproof, to run without lubricant, to be transportable, and so forth. But its function is to pump water. We focus here on capabilities possessed by humans – such as piano playing or language using – and we explore the relation between capabilities of these sorts and structures in the brain.

Bio: Eric Merrell is a graduate student at UB and plans to follow in the tradition of his graduate student colleagues of not defending a dissertation that defends animalism. 

3:00-3:15 Break

3:15-4:30 David Limbaugh (UB Philosophy Department Postdoc) “Warranted Diagnosis”

Abstract:  A diagnostic process is an investigative process that takes a clinical picture as input and outputs a diagnosis. We propose a method for distinguishing diagnoses that are warranted from those that are not, based on the cognitive processes of which they are the outputs. Processes designed and vetted to reliably produce correct diagnoses will output what we shall call ‘warranted diagnoses’. The latter are diagnoses that should be trusted even if they later turn out to have been wrong. Our work is based on the recently developed Cognitive Process Ontology and further develops the Ontology of General Medical Science. It also has applications in fields such as intelligence, forensics, and predictive maintenance, all of which rely on vetted processes designed to secure the reliability of their outputs.

Bio:  David Limbaugh works in the Department of Philosophy at the University at Buffalo as an Intelligence Community Postdoc funded by the Department of Energy through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). His past Romanell presentations include "The harm of medical disorder as harm in the damage sense" which was later published in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.

Spring 2019

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Saturday, 10:00am to 6:00pm, Park Hall 141
1. Allison Thornton  (University of Southern Alabama), Topic: Personal Identity
2. Phil Reed (Canisius College), “Against Suicide”
3. David Hershenov (UB), “The Moment that You Die and Cease to Exist”
4. Eric Merrell (UB grad), "Life and Metabolism: how to Freeze your Cat and have it too"
5. John Keller (Saint Joseph University), Topic: TBA
6. Jake Monaghan (UB grad), “Biological Ties and the Biological Account of Moral Status”

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Western New York Workshop on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine*

LOCATION — Park Hall 141, UB North Campus


9:30-10:00 a.m.  Breakfast 

10:00-11:15  The Thomas Percival Lecture 
Shane Hemmer (UB Ph.D. Candidate, VA Hospital) 
"Why Bother Evaluating Medical Decision-Making Capacity?" 

11:30-12:45 The Antonin Scalia Lecture: 
Stephen Gilles (Quinnipiac Law School).
"A Conceptual Analysis (and Critique) of Constitutional Abortion Rights" 

12:45-1:45 The Danny Wegman Lunch 

1:45-3:00 The Neo-Locke Lecture:
David Hershenov (University at Buffalo) 
“Harming the Mindless: Modifying McMahan’s Time-Relative Interests Account”

Dave Limbaugh (Romanell Center Fellow; Intelligence Community Postdoc ORISE) 
“Medical Cognitive Process Ontology”

4:45-6:00 The Gray’s Anatomy Lecture
Barry Smith (University at Buffalo) 
Topic: Response to Kingma on Fetuses as Parts of their Mothers

7:00 Dinner

*Workshop papers will be available for distribution on Monday, February 25. To obtain any of the papers, send an email request to David Hershenov at

Friday, April 5, 2019

Bioethics Workshop
Niagara University, 350 Bisgrove Hall
1:30 – 6:15pm
Four Romanell Center Fellows will present original papers on various issues related to medical ethics, philosophy of medicine, and bioethics. James Delaney, Shane Hemmer, David Hershenov, and Stephen Kershnar. Each session will last one hour and will consist of a presentation of the paper followed by discussion with audience. The workshop, made possible by the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Ethics in Medicine and Healthcare, is dedicated to investigating ethical issues related to healthcare and medicine facing our local and global communities. The event is free and open to the public. See program here.

Romanell Workshop, April 13, 2019

Western New York Workshop on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine*

9:30-10:00 The Robert Wegman Breakfast

10:00-11:15 The Thomas Linacre Plenary Lecture
    Jason Eberl (Saint Louis University )
    “Conscientious Refusals in Health Care: Developing World Cases and Systemic Responses in Solidarity”

11:30-12:45 The Bernard Lonergan Plenary Lecture
    Pat Daly (Boston College)
    Topic: Lonergan-Inspired Critique of Wakefield’s Hybrid Account of Disease

12:45-1:45 The Danny Wegman Culinary Experience

1:45-3:00 The Patrick Romanell Plenary Lecture in Medical Naturalism
    David Hershenov (University at Buffalo)
    A Naturalist Response to Kingma’s Critique of Naturalist Accounts of Disease

3:15- 4:30 The Joel Feinberg Plenary Lecture
    Neil Feit (SUNY Fredonia)
    “Preemption Cases and the Normative Relevance of Harm”

4:45-6:00 The Anti-Hippocrates Plenary Lecture
    Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia)
    “Should Physicians be Allowed to have Sex with their Patients?”

7:00 Dinner

*Workshop papers will be available for distribution on Monday, April 8. To obtain any or all of the papers, send an email request to David Hershenov at

Romanell Workshop, May 11, 2019

UB NORTH CAMPUS, Park Hall 141, 9:30 am – 6:00 pm

9:30-10:00 Breakfast 

10:00-11:00 Phil Reed (Canisius College Philosophy Department )
“Disvaluing the Disabled: Prenatal Testing, PAS, and the Expressivist Objection”

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:15 Plenary Address: Thomas Molony (Elon Law School)
“Liberty Finds No Refuge:  The Doubt-Filled Future of Casey’s Undue Burden Standard” with a discussion of abortion and disability 

12:15- 1:15 Lunch 

1:15-2:15 David Hershenov (University at Buffalo Philosophy Department) 
“If Pro-Lifers Believe that Embryos are Persons then why don’t they Demand a Massive Redistribution of Research Funds for Miscarriage Prevention?”

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-3:30 Keynote Address: Michael Rembis (UB Disabilities Center Director) 
“Challenging the Impairment/Disability Divide: Disability History and the Social Model of Disability"

3:30-3:45 Break

3:45-4:45 Peter Koch (Villanova University Philosophy Department) 
“Welfare and Disability”

4:45-5:00 Break

5:00-6:00 Barry Smith (University at Buffalo Philosophy Department) 
Topic: Disability

NOTE: Workshop papers will be available for distribution on Monday May 6. To obtain any or all papers, send an email request to David Hershenov at

Fall 2018

Sept. 7, 2018
3:30, Park Hall 141
Governor’s Lecture: David Hershenov (UB) and Rose Hershenov (Niagara University) “Do Fission Puzzles Provide Reason to Doubt that your Organism was ever a Zygote?”

Sept. 14, 2018
3:30, Park Hall 141
Governor’s Lecture: Barry Smith (UB) "The Chicken and the Egg: Response to Kingma on Babies as Parts of Their Mothers”

Sept. 20, 2018, Working Dinner
7:00-10:00 pm
End of Life Issues Reading group. Neil Feit choice: Jens Johansson’s “The Preemption problem” Philosophical Studies.

Sept. 25, "Defining Disability"
Tuesday, 10:00 a.m.
UB Medical Campus
77 Goodell Street, Buffalo, NY
Presentation by Barry Smith

Friday/Saturday, Oct.5/6, Ostapenko Center Symposium
"Doctor-patient Relationship: Does Christianity Make a Difference?"
Contact: Jim Delaney, Director, Ostapenko Center for Ethics in Medicine and Health Care, Niagara University
Speakers include David Hershenov and Phil Reed.
See program here.

Friday Oct. 19, Patrick Lee (Franciscan University)
“New vs. Old Natural Law Theories”

3:30-5:30 pm, Governor’s Lecture, Park Hall 141
7:00-10:00 pm, Working Dinner

Monday, Oct. 22, 6:00-7:30 pm, Physician-Assisted Death: Panel Discussion
Dozoretz Auditorium (Room 2220), Jacobs School of Medicine
Phil Reed, Panelist. See flyer here.

Friday Oct. 26, 3:30-5:30, Park Hall 141 
Governor’s Lecture: Eric Merrell topic: van Inwagen, death, and suspended animation

Romanell Workshop

Saturday Oct. 27, 141 Park Hall

Workshop Program:
10:00 – 10:50am, No Longer a Young Scholar Award Lecture:  David Hershenov (UB) and Rose Hershenov
(Niagara University). “The Metaphysical Error Underlying Tooley’s Defense of Infanticide”

11:00-11:50am, Elie Wiesel Profile in Courage Weekend Lecture: Harvey Berman. (UB Medical School) “Conscientious Objection: Whose Conscience? Whose Burden”?

12:00-12:50pm, The Scholar who is Least Likely to ever Win the American Catholic Philosophical Association’s Aquinas Medal Lecture: Steve Kershnar. (SUNY Fredonia); “The Doctrine of Double Effect Fails Miserably: Jim Delaney’s, John Keller’s and Phil Reed’s Ethical Theory Gets Two in the Back of the Head”

2:00-2:50pm, My Earlier Temporal Part Memorial Lecture: Shane Hemmer. (UB) Topic: Personal Identity

3:00-3:50pm, Keynote Lecture: Michael Rembis. (UB History, Director of UB Center for Disability Studies). “Nothing about us, without at least, perhaps, possibly, hopefully some of us”

4:00-4:50pm, Runner up for the Keynote Lecture: Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall University). “How to be an Actualist and Blame People.”

5:00-6:00pm, Panel Discussion: “What do Embryos Rescue Cases Reveal about the Moral Status of the Unborn”  

5:00-5:20pm, Plenary Lecturer: Jim Delaney (Niagara University – but on the job market). “Embryo Rescue”

5:20-5:40pm, First Runner up for Plenary Lecturer: Steve Kershnar. (SUNY Fredonia, but on probation) “Of course you Save the Adult over the F****** Embryo.”

5:40-6:00pm, Second Runner up for Plenary Lecturer. David Hershenov (UB). “Even a Cloned Embryo of Steve Kershnar Deserves to be Saved"


Saturday, Nov. 11, 2018 Conference, San Diego, CA.
American Catholic Philosophical Association
Romanell Center Satellite Session, 3:30-5:30p.m.

"What do embryo rescue scenarios reveal about the moral status of the unborn?” The panel consists of three Romanell fellows, David Hershenov, Jim Delaney and Steve Kershnar. The moderator is Jason Eberl. See conference program here.

Thursday, November 15, 7:00-10:00 pm
Working Dinner: Pat Daly (Boston College) “Concise Guide to Clinical Reasoning”Journal of Evaluation of Clinical Practice 

Friday Nov. 16, 3:30-5:30, Park Hall 141
Governor’s Lecture: Pat Daly (Boston College) “An Integral Approach to Health Science and Health Care” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Friday Nov. 30, 3:30-5:30, Park Hall 141 
Governor’s Lecture: Shane Hemmer (UB)
"The Conceptual Incoherence of Biological Approaches to Personal Identity."

TEDMED 2018 Simulcast


TEDMED Live 2018  in Palm Springs, CA 
Simulcast for UB Community, Nov. 14, 15, 16
Streaming On-Demand to Dec. 4

UB Access Code: L78443

The entire program, direct from the TEDMED stage, is simulcast via the Internet, live and on-demand. Content can be streamed on personal computers, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, and projected in classrooms and auditoriums. Each session lasts approximately 90 minutes and is comprised of 5-7 curated talks on important and/or provocative health and medicine topics.

See Full Program -


Conference Program

Thursday July 26 - Park Hall 141
Metaphysical Foundations of Bioethics Talks/Debates

9:00-9:30 Breakfast

9:30 -10:30 Adam Taylor, "The Incompatibility of Four-Dimensionalism and Bioethics."

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-11:45 Shane Hemmer, "The Compatibility of Four-Dimensionalism and Bioethics."

11:45-12:00 Break

12:00-1:00 David Hershenov, "If Fetuses are Parts of their Mothers, then Three Popular Abortion Defenses Fail on Purely Conceptual Grounds.”

1:00-2:00 Lunch - Barry Smith Trivia Quiz with Smith Book as prize

2:00-3:00 Derek Doroski, “A Biological Approach to When Human Organisms Begin”

3:15-4:15 Pat Daly, "A Critical Realist Appraisal of the Russo-Williams Thesis."

4:15-4:30 Break

4:30-5:30 Yishai Cohen, "Reductive Omnism"

6:30 Dinner

Friday June 27 – Park Hall 280 (note conference switches rooms)
Bioethics Talks/Debates

9:00-9:30 Breakfast

9:30-10:30 Phil Reed, "How Suicide and Assisted Suicide Overlap." 

10:30-10:45. Break

10:45-11:45 Harvey Berman, “Conscientious Objections and the Goals of Pharmacy Practice."

11:45-12:00 Break

12:00-1:00 Travis Timmerman, "The Problem with the Person-Rearing Accounts of Moral Status."

1:00-2:00 Lunch, Trivia Quiz about Pat Lee with Lee Book as prize

2:00-3:00 Don Marquis, “Defense of the Pro-life Position and Critique of Patrick Lee.”

3:00-3:15 Break

3:15-4:15 Patrick Lee, “Defense of The Pro- Life Position and critique of Don Marquis.”

4:15-4:30 Break

4:30-5:30 Steve Kershnar, "Problems with Informed Consent."

6:30 Dinner

Saturday July 28 - Park Hall 280
Philosophy of Medicine Talks/Debates

9:00-9:30 Breakfast

9:30-10:30 Bob Kelly, “Wakefield and Lewis on Addiction: Who is the Real Winner?”

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-12:15 Keynote Topic: Jerry Wakefield on the Nature of Addiction (See UB News)

12:15-1:00 Lunch, Trivia Quiz about Jerry Wakefield with Wakefield Book as Prize

1:00-2:00 David Limbaugh, "Defense of Disorders as Harmful Dysfunctions: Critique of Feit”

2:00-2:15 Break

2:15-3:15 Neil Feit, "Defense of Harmless Disorders: Critique of Limbaugh.”

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-4:30 Jelena Krgovic, “Need Based Account of Mental Health”

4:30-4:45 Break

4:45-5:45 Barry Smith, "Capabilities Disabilities, and Disorders"

6:30 Dinner

(Conference program subject to change.)


Metaphysical Foundations of Bioethics Talks/Debates.

Conference poster by Antonette Thérèse Nolan.

Third Tuesday Lecture Series

All Lectures: Third Tuesday at Noon, at locations listed on the UB Downtown Campus.


March 20, 2018
Phil Reed
“Does Morphine Kill?: Opioids and Double Effect at the End of Life”
JSMBS, Room 6128, 955 Main St.

April 17, 2018
Peter Koch
“The good life for patients with psychiatric disorders”
, Room 7002

May 15, 2018
Joseph Fins (Cornell)
"Covert Conscious in Severe Brain Injury: Clinical and Ethical Challenges”
CTRC, Room 5019

June 19, 2018
Dan Miori
"Applying the ethics of belief to medical decision-making in a big data era"
Location TBA

2017 -2018 Third Tuesday Lectures

  • 11/21/2017 David Limbaugh, UB,  "The Harm of Disorder as Harm in the Damage Sense"
  • 12/19/2017 Tim Madigan, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, “Patrick Romanell: Pioneer in Medical Ethics”
  • 1/16/2018  Stephen Kershnar, Fredonia, "On what basis should medical schools admit students?"
  • ​2/20/2018  Harvey Berman, UB

2017-2018 Romanell Working Committees/Reading Groups Schedule

Note: Committees meet the third Tuesday of each month.

  • June 20, 2017, Ontology of Medicine Reading group. David Hershenov paper choice, Kingma’s “Naturalism about Health and Disease: Adding Nuance for Progress”, and David Limbaugh’s “Harm in the Damage Sense: The Concept of ‘Harm’ in the Concept of Mental Disorder”.
  • July 22, 2017, Romanell Conference keynote papers by Schechtman, Marquis and Lizza on personal identity and our Origins.
  • September 19, 2017, Health, Harm and Well-Being reading group. Jim Delaney paper choice, "Harm and the Boundaries of Disease” by McGivern and Sorial.
  • October 17,  2017,  End of Life Issues Reading group. Neil Feit choice “The Time of Death’s Badness” by Jens Johansson.
  • November 21, 2017, Clinical Ethics Reading Group. Harvey Berman paper choice, tba.
  • December 19, 2017, Creation and Enhancement Reading group. Rose Hershenov paper choice, tba.
  • January 16, 2018, Ontology of Medicine Reading Group. John Keller paper choice, Peter Graham selections from George Graham’s An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Mental Illness.
  • February 20, 2018, Autonomy, Addiction and Accountability Reading Group, Rob Kelly paper choice, “Addiction and the Concept of Disorder by Jerry Wakefield.
  • March 20, 2018, Foundations of Bioethics Reading Group. Steve Kershnar paper choice, “Can Consequences be Right Makers”.
  • April 24, 2018, Health, Harm and Well-Being Working group. David Limbaugh paper choice, Stephen M. Campbell's: The Concept of Well-Being.
  • May 22, 2018, Geert Craanen paper choice, Onora O’Neil’s “Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics”.
  • June 19, 2018, End of Life Reading Group: Phil Reed paper choice, Jukka Varelius “ Mental Illness, Natural Death, and non-Voluntary Passive Euthanasia.”
  • July 17, 2018, Keynoter papers in preparation for 2018 Romanell Conference.

Romanell Center Spring 2018 Workshop

MARCH 10, 2018
Saturday Afternoon
Park Hall 141, UB North Campus

11:00-12:15 Yuichi Minemura (UB Alum)
A  Romanell Lecture
“The Transplant Intuition and Animalism”

12:15-12:45 Lunch

12:45-2:00 John Lizza (Kutztown University)
Lynne Baker Memorial Lecture
“Is Brain Death a Legal Fiction”

2:15-3:30  Jack Freer (UB Med School),
Harvey Berman (UB Med School)
People’s Choice Award Lecture.
Topic: Dissociative Identity Disorders and Psychological Accounts of Personal Identity

3:45-5:00  Peter Koch (Villanova)
The "I Can't Let Go Of Grad School" Dissertation Re-Defense Lecture
“Capabilities and the Welfare of Patients with Disorders of Consciousness”

5:15-6:30 Barry Smith (UB)
NCOR Workshop on Defining “Capability” Lecture
“What Do IQ Tests Measure?”

Barry Smith Lecture Multimedia Resources

Romanell Center Spring 2018 Workshop

FEBRUARY 17, 2018
Park Hall 141, UB North Campus

12:00-1:00 David Limbaugh (UB).
Western New York Philosophical Hall of Fame Inductee Lecture

Paper Title: Potential, Degrees, and Patrick Lee: The powers of the fetus and the powers of me”

1:15-2:15 Rose Hershenov (Niagara University) and Derek Doroski (Franciscan University)
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" Fission and Fusion Lecture.

Paper Title: “Twin Inc.”

2:30-3:30 Rob Kelly (UB).
The Betty Ford Recovery Lecture
Paper Title: "The Systematic Loss of Control in Addiction: Beyond Disease and Choice"

3:45-4:45 Shane Hemmer (UB)
I Should Have Written a Dissertation in Bioethics Lecture

Paper Title: "Conscientious Objection and the Internal Morality of Medicine"

5:00-6:00 David Hershenov (UB)
The Dewey-Like Lecture

Paper Title: “Three Mistakes about Personal Identity and Harm to Embryos”

Romanell Center Fall 2017 Workshop

NOVEMBER 18, 2017
Park Hall 141 (Seminar Room)
UB North Campus

12:30-1:30pm Governor’s Lecture:  Steve Kershnar (SUNY Fredonia)
“Desert and Organ Transplantation:  Should Addicts, Criminals, or Welfare Recipients go the End of the Line?

1:45-2:45pm Derek Parfit Memorial Lecture: David Hershenov (University at Buffalo)
“Are Psychological Accounts of Personal Identity Compatible with the Whole Brain Death Criterion?”

3:00-4:00pm Regents Lecture: Jake Monaghan (University at Buffalo)
“Informational Obligations and Consent”

4:15-5:15pm The Phil Reed Friends Lecture: James Delaney (Niagara University)
“Causing/Removing Disability and Noninterference”

Debate: Drs. John Keller and Stephen Kershnar debate the moral status of abortion

November 7, 2017 at 7:00pm, in Science Center 105, SUNY Fredonia

Romanell Conference, July 28 & 29, 2017

Media Coverage of 2017 Romanell Conference

The Romanell Conference on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine recently featured keynotes by Jerome Wakefield and Christopher Boorse, pictured above on Buffalo's Niagara River shore, with Canada's shore on the horizon.

PANTC 2016

PANTC 2016.

PANTC 2015

PANTC 2015.

PANTC 2014

PANTC 2014.

PANTC 2013

PANTC 2013.

2016-2017 Featured Speakers

  • David Koepsell JD, PhD, Mexico Comisión Nacional de Bioética, "The Blockchain and Personal Genomics: tracking rights and responsibilities securely", 9/20/16.
  • Stephen Kershnar, JD, PhD, Fredonia, "People are not morally responsible and why this matters for medical ethics", 10/18/16.
  • Miriam Shuchman MD, University of Toronto, 11/15/16.
  • Barry Smith PhD, UB, "Document-Driven Healthcare", 12/20/16.
  • Joseph Fins MD, Cornell Univ, 1/17/17.
  • David Essi, UB, Comparative Effectiveness Research: Case studies in Germany & the United States, 2/21/17.
  • Steven Fliesler PhD, UB, "Scientific Misconduct: The Nature of the Beast", 3/21/17.
  • Heather Ochs-Balcom, UB, 4/18/17.
  • Susan Smith, UB, 5/16/17.
  • Peter Koch, Baylor, 6/20/17.

2011 to 2016 Archive Listing

  • Sean Philpott PhD, Union Graduate Program in Bioethics. "Gonorrhea, Guatemala and Gung-Ho Researchers: The Scandalous History of Research Ethics." 10/17/11.
  • Stephen Wear PhD, UB. "Informed Consent." 12/19/11.
  • Katie Grimm MD, UB: "Population Health: Applying an ethics lens to public health initiatives." 02/20/12.
  • Susan Smith PhD, UB: "The Use of Race in Clinical Research and Practice." 03/19/12.
  • Miriam Shuchman MD, University of Toronto: "Doing research on a vulnerable population: the case of psychotic individuals." 04/16/12
  • Peter Winkelstein, MD, MBA, UB: "Medicine 2.0: Ethical Challenges of Social Media for the Health Profession." 05/21/12.
  • Ana Iltis PhD, Wake Forest: "'Research ethics consultation in a clinical and translational science setting." 06/18/12.
  • David Doukas MD, University of Louisville: "Cultivating Humanism in the Clinical Scientist." 07/24/12
  • Jack Freer MD, UB: "Return of individual research results." 09/18/12.
  • Harvey Berman PhD, UB "How Vioxx exposed conflicts of interest at FDA and The New England Journal." 10/16/12.
  • Barry Smith PhD, UB. "Ethics, Informatics and Obamacare." 11/20/12.
  • Stephen Wear PhD, UB, "Informed Consent: what should it ideally/practically involve?" 01/15/13.
  • Steven Fliesler PhD, UB. "Research Misconduct: The Nature of the Beast." 02/19/13.
  • Jim Lavery MSc, PhD, Univ Toronto, "Re-thinking the ethical foundations of community engagement in research." 03/19/13.
  • Dorothy Wright MA, MLS, UB, "Informed Consent: The Role of Trust and Assurances." 04/16/13.
  • Nancy Rourke PhD, Canisius, "Swallowing Sacrament: Dementia and the Eucharist." 05/21/13.
  • Jack Freer MD, UB, "Vulnerability and research at the end of life" 06/18/14.
  • D.Alan Shewmon MD, UCLA, "Vegetative State: Clinical and Ethical Update." 08/20/13.
  • Diane Schwartz MLS, Kaleida, UB, "Evidence Based Medicine & Critical Appraisal of the Literature; Supporting Ethical Clinical Decisions." 09/17/13.
  • Stephen Wear, PhD, UB, .Lies to the Sick and Dying Revisited. 11/19/13.
  • Nicoleta Voian, MD, MPH, RPCI, "Ethics and Genetics", 12/17/13.
  • Barry Smith, PhD UB, ""Clinical Trial Data Wants To Be Free: Lessons from the NIAID Immunology Database and Analysis Portal", 01/21/14.
  • Harvey Berman PhD, MPH, UB, "Noninvasive Prenatal Testing: Has the slippery slope become slipperier?" 02/18/13.
  • Jason Eberl PhD, Marian University and Indiana University Center for Bioethics, Richard Gronostajski PhD, UB, Western New York Stem Cell Culture and Analysis Center (WNYSTEM), "Societal Issues in Stem Cell Research." 03/18/14.
  • Camille Wicher PhD, RN, RPCI,"What Research Reveals about the African American Perception of Hospice", 04/15/14.
  • Jack Freer MD, UB, "The Research-Treatment obsolete concept?" 05/20/14.
  • David Hershenov PhD, UB Philosophy, Rose Hershenov PhD, Niagara U Philosophy, "Health, Harm and Potential", 06/17/14.
  • Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter PhD, UB Family Medicine. "Patient Voices Network: Ethical considerations in Participatory Research", 09/16/14.
  • Miriam Shuchman MD, UB, U Toronto, "Research Collaborations Between High- and Low-income Countries -- equity, ethics, and Ebola research", 10/21/14.
  • Lisa Lehman MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, "High Value Care and the Physician-Patient Relationship", 11/18/14.
  • Kim Griswold MD, UB Family Medicine, "Ethical issues in providing services to refugee and asylum seekers", 12/16/14.
  • Nicoleta Voian, MD, MPH, RPCI, "Ethical aspects of genetic testing for hereditary cancer syndromes", 1/20/15.
  • Steven Fliesler PhD, UB Ophthalmology, "Plagiarism: Walking on the Dark Side", 2/17/15.
  • Barry Smith PhD, UB Philosophy, "Ontology of Aging and Death", 3/17/15.
  • David Kaye MD, UB Psychiatry, "Ethical Questions in Pediatric Primary Care/Psychiatry Collaborative Care Programs", 4/21/15.
  • James DuBois DSc PhD, Washington Univ St. Louis, "Responding to Wrongdoing in Research", 5/19/15.
  • Stephen Kershnar PhD, Fredonia, "Quantifying Health", 6/16/15.
  • Camille Wicher PhD, RN, RPCI,"Incidental Findings in Research", 10/20/15.
  • Harvey Berman, PhD, UB Pharmacology, "Scientific Fraud." 11/17/15.
  • Timothy Quill MD, Univ of Rochester, "Last Resort Options for Intractable Suffering: What is possible in New York now and in the future?" 12/15/15
  • Nancy Rourke PhD, Canisius, "The Ethics Beyond Ugly Sweaters: Lying and Advanced Dementia", 1/19/16.
  • David Hershenov PhD, UB Philosophy, "Death and Dignity." 2/16/16.
  • Phillip Reed PhD, Canisius, "Suicide and Assisted Dying." 3/15/16.
  • Jack Freer MD, UB Medicine, ".Decision Making Capacity and Aphasia." 4/19/16.
  • Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter PhD, UB Family Medicine, (co-presented with Sarah Reilly, UB IRB), "Describing the role of community members in research: Researcher and IRB perspectives." 5/17/16.
  • Geert Craenen MD, Buffalo VA, UB Ophthalmology, "The Moral Agency of Virtual Surgical Simulators." 6/21/16.