Sunday, 7 September 2014

Reproductive Public Health Ethics at the MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, 2014.

In a few hours, I'm off to Manchester, UK, for participation in a so-called panel ( ≈ special symposium) at the MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory 2014. The panel is on the topic of Reproductive Public Health Ethics and has been conceived of and convened by myself. The topic itself is described thus, at the Mancept website:

Human reproduction and resulting population patterns is a classic concern of public policy, yet philosophical and ethical applications to this area remain imprecise, scattered and unsystematic. The point of this workshop is to stimulate a more integrated addressing of this area for social and political philosophical analysis from a public health standpoint. Reproductive bioethics hosts established interest in the regulation of reproductive technology, yet mostly ignoring overarching societal concerns to the benefit of a discourse focusing on individual reproductive liberty. This individualism has stimulated the emergence of public health ethics, where queries regarding health policy are put at a population level, but reproduction- and population issues have not been in focus, partly due to a common conflation in public health between reproductive and sexual health. In parallel, biopolitics subjects cultural layers of policy to critical scrutiny regarding “identities” and concepts central to laws across the world – e.g. parenthood and family – in light of, e.g., technological developments. Also here, public health ethical perspectives are scant, while dimensions of justice otherwise often ignored are addressed, making possible, e.g., explorations of hidden presumtions behind reproductive policies. More basic research on population ethics, while having somewhat informed reproductive bioethics, remains largely unexplored as to more conrete political and policy implications in either of the mentioned dimensions, e.g. in the face of environmental challenges and expected consequences in the form of resource scarcity and global migration. There are also theoretical conundrums which need attention, e.g. how justice-oriented discourses of biopolitics can be squared with the intricate problems of population ethics, or how the combination of these and a globalised public health ethical approach relates to the individualist assumptions of reproductive bioethics. The workshop assembles a selected group of presenters from the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK.
The same website also lists an, alas, not so up to date speaker list, as I've had a few cancellations and a few new people entering the program since it was initially presented to the Mancept organisation. The actual program looks like this:

  • Session 1: Sept 8, 2 PM - 5:30 PM

Christian Munthe, University of Gothenburg: Reproductive Population Health and the Goals of Public Health: Exploring a Territory of Moral Unease

Angus Dawson, University of Birmingham: Public Health Reproduction: Defending the Very Idea

  • Session 2: Sept 9, 9:30 AM - 1 PM

Daniela Cutas, Umeå University & University of Gothenburg: The Nuclear Family and Reproductive Policy: Ethical Challenges

Marian Verkerk, University of Groningen & Ulrik Kihlbom, Uppsala University: Preconception Genetic Testing and Reproductive Counselling as Challenge to the Family as Social Institution

Anca Gheaus, Sheffield University: Biological Parenthood: Gestational not Genetic – Implications for Reproductive and Family Law

  • Session 3: Sept 9, 2 PM - 5:30 PM

Stephen Wilkinson, Lancaster University: The Public Health Ethics of Selecting Future Children

Anna Smajdor, University of East Anglia: Postponed Motherhood and the State

Rebecca Brown, University of Aberdeen: Incentives for Reproductive Public Health

  • Session 4: Sept 10, 9:30 AM - 1 PM

Kalle Grill, Umeå University: Population Policy in the Face of Environmental Challenge: What Place for Reproductive Liberty?

General discussion on future developments and prospects of the topic in forthcoming endeavours

If you happen to be at the Mancept Workshops event, please don't hesitate to drop in on our panel, or approach about interest in the general topic!