For further information about the Romanell Center events, contact David Hershenov,  or Ali Hasanzadeh,


August 2022

Join us for the Romanell Center Bioethics Workshop, Saturday, August 13, 2022, Capen Hall 107, 9:00 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. UB North Campus. The workshop features presentations by Romanell Fellows.

AUGUST 2022 WORKSHOP PROGRAM (subject to change)
Saturday, August 13, 2022
CAPEN HALL 107,  9:00 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. 

The Doctrine of Double Effect Panel

9:00-9:50 Steve Kershnar – SUNY Professor Suspendus (Via Zoom from ROME Conference) “Double Effect Theorists Have Contempt for People’s Rights. Shame on Them.” 

9:50-10:00 Break.

10:00-10:50 Chris Tollefsen - University of South Carolina - “Double Effect and Universalizability.”

10:50-11:00 Break

11:00-11:50 Chris Kaczor - Loyola Marymount University "Double Effect Reasoning and Lethal Organ Donation "

11:50-12:00 Break

12:00-12:50 Phil Reed (Ex-philosopher, Dean of Canisius College)  “Why Opponents of Double Effect Accept Double Effect Without Intending To”

1:00-3:00 Lunch

Hylomorphism vs Animalism Panel

3:00-3:50 Jason Eberl – Saint Louis University “Hylomorphic Animals Are Not Animalist Animals”

3:50-4:00 Break

4:00-4:50 Patrick Toner – Wake Forest University “Substance Dualism and Animalism"  

4:50-5:00 Break

5:00-5:50  Jeremy Skrzypek (Ohio Dominican University) “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Animalism vs. Hylomorphism”

Contact David Hershenov via email  for advance copies of the workshop papers.

July 2022

Romanell Center Bioethics Workshop, Saturday, July 9, 2022, Park Hall 141, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. UB North Campus. The workshop features presentations by Romanell Fellows and a keynote by Jessica Flanigan (Richmond) “Natalism and the Ethics of Having Children”.

SUMMER WORKSHOP PROGRAM (subject to change)
Saturday, July 9, 2022
Park Hall 141,  9:30am to 6:15pm

9:30–10:30 Steve Kershnar (Romanell Fellow/SUNY Fredonia) “Proportionality in Self-Defense and Vaccination-Mandates”

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-11:45 Carter Benson (University at Buffalo Graduate Student). Topic: The Ethics of Vaccine Mandates

11:45-1:45 Lunch

1:45-2:45 David Hershenov (Romanell Fellow/University at Buffalo) ‘Why Hybrid Accounts of Personal Identity Can’t Prevent the Counterintuitive Bioethical Consequences of Neo-Lockean and Animalist Accounts”

2:45-3:00. Break

3:00-4:00 James Cordeiro (Pembroke College, Oxford/SUNY Brockport). "Ectogestation-Based Contracting as a Basis for Compromise in Parental Disputes over Abortion?"

4:00-4:15 Break

4:15-6:15 Keynoter - Jessica Flanigan (Richmond) “Natalism and the Ethics of Having Children”

Contact David Hershenov via email  for advance copies of the workshop papers.

June 2022

Saturday, June 25, 2022 

141 Park Hall

9:30–10:30 Justice Byron White Memorial Lecture - Steve Gilles (Quinnipiac Law School) Topic: Abortion Law after Dobbs

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-11:45 Susan B. Anthony Lecture - Teresa Collett (Saint Thomas University Law School) “The Road from Roe”

1:45-2:45 Derek Parfit Memorial Lecture - Finn Wilson (UB Grad Student) “Animalism on the Chopping Block”

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00-4:00. Cyril Means Memorial Lecture - Steve Kershnar (Romanell Fellow/SUNY Fredonia) “Proportionality”

4:00-4:15 Break

4:15-6:15 Father Joe Koterski Memorial Keynote Lecture -
Chris Tollefson (USC) “Cell Lines of Illicit Origin and Vaccines: Metaphysics and Ethics”  

May 2022


Romanell Center Bioethics Workshop, Saturday, May 28, Park Hall 141, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. UB North Campus. The workshop features presentations by Romanell Fellows and a keynote by Alex Pruss (Baylor University) on the topic: Natural Law, Vagueness, and Bioethics.

May 28, 2022
Park Hall 141,  9:30am to 6:15pm

9:30–10:30 Catherine Nolan (Romanell Center Fellow/Belmont Abbey) “Aristotle's Understanding of the Sexes”

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-11:45. David Hershenov: (Romanell Fellow/UB) “An Alternative to the Rational Substance Pro-Life View”

11:45-1:45 Lunch. Santora’s Grill.

1:45-2:45 Pat Daly (Boston College Lonergan Institute). “Health and Normativity”

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00-4:00. Steve Kershnar (Romanell Fellow/SUNY Fredonia) "Right Supremacy: How Rights Relate to Desert, Dignity, Duties, Equality, and Intention."

4:00-4:15 Break

4:15-6:15 Keynote Lecture. Alex Pruss. (Baylor University) Topic: Natural Law, Vagueness, and Bioethics

Contact David Hershenov at for advance copies of the workshop papers.

Spring 2022

Saturday, February 19, 2022
141 Park Hall, 4:00-6:00 pm
Keynote: “Mockery, Disability, and Morality.” 
David Shoemaker,  Professor of Philosophy, Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell 

Saturday, March 19, 2022
Workshop Keynoter: Patrick Lee, Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Center for Bioethics, John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Professor of Bioethics, Franciscan University

Saturday, April 30, 2022 

Workshop Keynoter: Melissa Moschella, Associate Professor, Catholic University of America

Saturday, May 28, 2022 

Workshop Keynoter: Alex Pruss, Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University

Saturday, June 25, 2022 

Keynoter: Chris Tollefson “Cell Lines of Illicit Origin and Vaccines: Metaphysics and Ethics”  

For further inforamtion and copies of the workshop papers, contact Dr. David Hershenov,


Related Event

January 25, 2022
Tuesday, 4:00 PM, Dosoretz Room (2220A) JSMBS
Dr. Jobst Landgrebe, Founding Manager and Director, Cognotekt GmbH, Köln, Germany
Title: Ethics of germ line gene therapy in humans

This talk describes the technology used to genetically alter the human germ line and assesses its medical safety (risks of involuntary genome alternations and side effects). I then discuss 1. the Mendelian case constellations, in which germ line therapy can be adequately modelled to obtain a controlled, deterministic result, and 2. the non-Mendelian cases in which this is not possible. In conclusion, I evaluate each set of cases from an ethical perspective, and show why they call for a very different ethical assessment.

Fall 2021 Events

Spring 2021 Speaker Series


Authors: Shane Babcock, John Beverley, Lindsay G. Cowell, Barry Smith Published online - OFS PrePrints. See news article by Bert Gambini, Ontology powerful weapon against COVID-19.

Also see the related paper, The Coronavirus Infectious Disease Ontology (CIDO), here.

News & Events

Journal of Medical Ethics publishes target article by Philip Reed

Philip Reed, PhD.

Philip Reed, PhD

Romanell Center fellow and Professor of Philosophy at Canisius College Philip Reed recently published a target article, "Expressivism at the Beginning and End of Life," in the Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (2020): 538-544. The article addresses how certain controversial biomedical practices might send a message of disrespect to the disabled. The journal solicited commentaries from Felicia Nimue Ackerman, Professor of Philosophy at Brown University; Bjørn Hofmann, Professor at the Department of Health, Technology and Society at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; John Keown, Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics; Janet Malek, Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at Baylor College of Medicine's Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy; and Joel Michael Reynolds, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Disability Studies at Georgetown University. The journal also published Prof. Reed’s response to the commentaries.

Debate Between Romanell Fellows about the Nature of Disease is Published in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Romanell Fellows David Limbaugh and Neil Feit debated the question “Whether Diseases must be Harmful?”  at the Seventh Annual Romanell Conference. Feit had earlier published his “Harm and the Concept of Medical Disorder” in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (TMB) 38: 5, pp 367–385. Feit argued that Jerry Wakefield was in error to claim that disorders had to be harmful. David Limbaugh offered an original defense of why disorders were harmful entitled “The Harm of Medical Disorder as Harm in the Damage Sense” that was published in 2019 in TMB 40:1, pp. 1-20. The debate took place in Buffalo on July 28, 2018 in Buffalo. Wakefield, who was keynoting the conference at which the debate took place, declared Limbaugh the debate winner. Feit then wrote a response to Limbaugh’s response entitled “Medical Disorder, Harm, and Damage” that will be published in a future issue of TMB.

Debate Between Romanell Fellows about Abortion and Religion to be Published in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy

Romanell Fellows Phil Reed, David Hershenov, and Stephen Kershnar debated the question “Are Pro-Lifers Committed to Killing Abortion Doctors?” The Reed and Hershenov presentation was facetiously entitled “Should Steve Kershnar be Given Hemlock for Corrupting the Pro-Life Young?” Reed and Hershenov were responding to a Kershnar paper that ended up as a chapter entitled “Forfeiture and Killing Abortion Doctors” in Kershnar’s 2017 Routledge Press book Does the Pro-Life Worldview Make Sense?: Abortion, Hell, and Violence Against Abortion Doctors. The debate audience voted neither to execute or acquit Kershnar, but compromised, concluding that exile would be appropriate. The Reed and Hershenov response to Kershnar entitled “How Not to Defend the Unborn” has been accepted by the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (forthcoming). 

UB News

Templeton Foundation grant-winning philosopher to argue against an afterlife at UB conference

poster from the Romanell Summer Conference featuring a photo of keynote speaker John Martin Fischer.

John Martin Fischer, who specializes in the metaphysics and ethics of life and death, to deliver keynote at the annual Romanell Conference

Release Date: July 8, 2019

John Martin Fischer.

John Martin Fischer

Stephen Kershnar.

Stephen Kershnar

“Although he has argued that immortality would be welcome, Fischer is an atheist who doesn’t think an immortal posthumous existence awaits us. And his talk will be easily accessible to non-philosophers."
David Herschenov, professor of philosophy
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – John Martin Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California Riverside and the recipient of a $5.2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation in 2012 to study different aspects of immortality, will deliver the keynote address as part of this year’s Romanell Summer Conference, titled “Death, Disease and Identity.”

Fischer’s talk, “Near-Death Experiences: To the Edge of the Universe,” will be on Thursday, July 25, at 4:45 p.m. in 141 Park Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus.

The three-day conference, presented by the UB Department of Philosophy, will run July 25-27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.  All events take place in 141 Park and are free and open to the public.

A complete schedule of events is available online.

Fischer is among the world’s leading authorities on free will, moral responsibility, and metaphysical and ethical issues related to life and death. His keynote seeks to explain away the alleged out-of-body experiences of those near death, according to David Hershenov, a professor in UB’s philosophy department and co-director of the university’s Romanell Center for Clinical Ethics and the Philosophy of Medicine.

“For Fischer, these near-death accounts, though often sincere, are not evidence of the soul leaving the body or that anyone has gone to heaven and come back,” says Hershenov. 

But Fischer is not an “immortality curmudgeon,” a term he actually coined to identify an opposing belief to the widespread notion that eternal life is indisputably desirable.

These curmudgeons, by Fischer’s definition, view potential immortality as most likely boring and maintain the absence of an end point in the narrative structure of human existence makes life meaningless.

“Although he has argued that immortality would be welcome, Fischer is an atheist who doesn’t think an immortal posthumous existence awaits us,” says Hershenov. “And his talk will be easily accessible to non-philosophers."

Hershenov says Fischer has worked on how death can be harmful – a statement that inspires pause until Hershenov provides context.

“We think harm occurs when you’re in a particular state that we compare to a state when you weren’t harmed. Someone who injures their knee is harmed because we can compare that to the state when the same knee wasn’t injured,” he explains. “But with death, you don’t exist. So how can that be harmful?”

This is among the puzzles addressed by another conference speaker, Travis Timmerman, an assistant professor of philosophy at Seton Hall University, who will discuss if death is a harm and when it can be harmful.

Barry Smith, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Julian Park Chair in UB’s philosophy department, will look at the possibility of a digital afterlife.

“We have these Hail Mary passes to the future trying to prolong existence through cryogenics or downloading the contents of our brains onto a hard drive,” says Hershenov. “Barry thinks it’s a false model of the mind to believe that information from our minds can be extracted and put somewhere else where we will live on digitally forever.”

The conference closes with the “ever-controversial” Stephen Kershnar, a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the philosophy department at SUNY Fredonia.

“If you’re religious, death might not be bad,” says Hershenov. “We hear people say, ‘Grandma is in a better place.’ Stephan’s talk will explore how that belief might relate to decisions we make about resources and health care.

“Like I said, he’s always controversial,” notes Hershenov.  “That’s why we schedule him last, so if protestors arrive they’ll only disrupt his talk.”

Media Contact Information

Bert Gambini
News Content Manager
Arts and Humanities, Economics, Social Sciences, Social Work
Tel: 716-645-5334

Published February 6, 2019

Routledge Press.

The Romanell Center is pleased to announce that five of its fellows have collaborated on a primary text for undergraduate courses on the philosophy of death and dying, which is forthcoming by Routledge Press. Exploring the Philosophy of Death: Classical and Contemporary Perspective is co-edited by Romanell Fellow, Travis Timmerman.

The book uses classic texts and contemporary contributions to investigate central questions within the philosophy of death literature. It is ideal for courses that aim to address several of the fundamental philosophical questions related to death and dying. By including works that draw from both Western (analytic and continental) and non-Western traditions, the authors present a diversity of voices that have contributed to the philosophy of death and dying throughout history.

Chapters, authored for the text by Romanell Center Fellows, include:

"Death Is Bad for Us When We're Dead.” by Neil Feit (SUNY Fredonia).

“Can We Survive our Deaths?” by Rose Hershenov and David Hershenov (University at Buffalo).

“The Possibility of Suicide.” by Philip Reed (Canisius College).
"Refuting Symmetry Arguments." by Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall University).



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