MSt in Practical Ethics

The MSt offers high-quality training in practical ethics, drawing on the internationally recognised expertise of Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the Ethox Centre and the Faculty of Philosophy.

Application Deadlines:

  • Friday 19 January 2024, 12:00 noon UK time, (Latest deadline for most Oxford scholarships)
  • Friday 1 March 2024, 12:00 noon UK time

*Applications may remain open after the March deadline if places are still available.

For more information on the course and to check the admission status, visit the course page on the Continuing Education website here.

Applications for the modules as standalone courses are also available.

This flexible, part -time course consists of six modules and a dissertation. The MSt in Practical Ethics is a part-time course consisting of six taught modules and a dissertation. Modules may also be taken as standalone courses.

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Practical Ethics Is Upgrading

To all of our loyal and brand new readers the editors of the Practical Ethics, practical ethics in the news blog, would like to announce that between Monday 19th and Monday 26th February 2024 there will be no new posts on the blog. This is to allow our IT team to give the site a much needed overhaul and upgrade. We look forward to launching our updated blog on the 26th Feb with some exciting new posts.

Thank you for your readership, comments and interest in all that we have published over the years and look forward to many years to come of fascinating ethical discussions with you all.

 

Cross Post: You Could Lie To A Health Chatbot – But It Might Change How You Perceive Yourself

Dominic Wilkinson, Consultant Neonatologist and Professor of Ethics, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Imagine that you are on the waiting list for a non-urgent operation. You were seen in the clinic some months ago, but still don’t have a date for the procedure. It is extremely frustrating, but it seems that you will just have to wait.

However, the hospital surgical team has just got in contact via a chatbot. The chatbot asks some screening questions about whether your symptoms have worsened since you were last seen, and whether they are stopping you from sleeping, working, or doing your everyday activities.

Your symptoms are much the same, but part of you wonders if you should answer yes. After all, perhaps that will get you bumped up the list, or at least able to speak to someone. And anyway, it’s not as if this is a real person. Continue reading

Cross Post: Spectator TV – Should the government ban smoking? With Kate Andrews and Dominic Wilkinson

Oxford Uehiro Centre’s Professor Dominic Wilkinson discusses the government’s proposal to ban smoking with The Spectator.

AI Authorship: Responsibility is Not Required

This is the fifth in a series of blogposts by the members of the Expanding Autonomy project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

by Neil Levy

AI is rapidly being adopted across all segments of academia (as it is across much of society). The landscape is rapidly changing, and we haven’t yet settled on the norms that should govern how it’s used. Given how extensive usage already is, and how deeply integrated into every aspect of paper production, one important question concerns whether an AI can play the authorship role. Should AIs be credited, in the same way as humans might be? Continue reading

Political Campaigning, Microtargeting, and the Right to Information

Written by Cristina Voinea 

 

2024 is poised to be a challenging year, partly because of the important elections looming on the horizon – from the United States and various European countries to Russia (though, let us admit, surprises there might be few). As more than half of the global population is on social media, much of political communication and campaigning moved online. Enter the realm of online political microtargeting, a game-changer fueled by data and analytics innovations that changed the face of political campaigning.  

Microtargeting, a form of online targeted advertisement, relies on the collection, aggregation, and processing of both online and offline personal data to target individuals with the messages they will respond or react to. In political campaigns, microtargeting on social media platforms is used for delivering personalized political ads, attuned to the interests, beliefs, and concerns of potential voters. The objectives of political microtargeting are diverse, as it can be used to inform and mobilize or to confuse, scare, and demobilize. How does political microtargeting change the landscape of political campaigns? I argue that this practice is detrimental to democratic processes because it restricts voters’ right to information. (Privacy infringements are an additional reason but will not be the focus of this post). 

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Cross Post: Should A Health Professional Be Disciplined For Reporting An Illegal Abortion?

Written by: Prof Dominic Wilkinson, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

There have been several high-profile cases in the last year of women in the UK being prosecuted for allegedly obtaining abortions illegally. In 2022, there were 29 cases of suspected unlawful abortions that were reported to police – almost a twofold rise on the number reported four years earlier.

In response to this, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has issued guidance that seeks to clarify the legal obligations of healthcare professionals. The full guideline has not yet been released, but the RCOG insists that professionals “are under no legal obligation to contact the police following an abortion, pregnancy loss or unattended delivery”. Continue reading

Expertise and Autonomy in Medical Decision Making

Written by Rebecca Brown.

This is the fourth in a series of blogposts by the members of the Expanding Autonomy project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

This blog is based on a paper forthcoming in Episteme. The full text is available here.

Imagine you are sick with severe headaches, dizziness and a nasty cough. You go to see a doctor. She tells you you have a disease called maladitis and it is treatable with a drug called anti-mal. If you take anti-mal every day for a week the symptoms of maladitis should resolve completely. If you don’t treat the maladitis, you will continue to experience your symptoms for a number of weeks, though it should resolve eventually. In a small number of cases, maladitis can become chronic. She also tells you about some side-effects of anti-mal: it can cause nausea, fatigue and an itchy rash. But since these are generally mild and temporary, your doctor suggests that they are worth risking in order to treat your maladitis. You have no medical training and have never heard of maladitis or anti-mal before. What should you do?

One option is that you a) form the belief that you have maladitis and b) take the anti-mal to treat it. Your doctor, after all, has relevant training and expertise in this area, and she believes that you have maladitis and should take anti-mal. Continue reading

Is There a Duty to Vote?

Written by Joseph Moore

This new year is a presidential election year in my home country of the United States. And so, there is likely to be no shortage of U.S. political news and commentary surrounding candidates’ pasts, their present comments and their campaign promises. It is also likely that many U.S. citizens (and probably some others) will find themselves embroiled, more frequently than usual, in weighty conversations about current events, political strategy or social or economic issues. And when the primary and general elections draw near, there will be repeated calls for all eligible voters to vote, regardless of who or what they vote for.

With all of the information (and misinformation) available and with the depth of many of the substantive issues, it will take a non-negligible amount of time and energy to remain fully politically informed throughout the election cycle. I am sure some people would rather not devote that time and energy to the process. Yet one often faces immense public and interpersonal pressure to be informed and to vote. These are sometimes even advanced as moral or civic duties on the part of citizens of democracies. To what extent are these really duties? Are citizens truly obligated to stay politically up-to-date and to vote in elections? Continue reading

Cross Post: Nudging for Better Beliefs

This is the third in a series of blogposts by the members of the Expanding Autonomy project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

 

Written By: Oscar A. Piedrahita & Matthew VermaireCOGITO, University of Glasgow.

 

Don’t you find that other people’s beliefs are always getting in the way of progress? They seem to be full of bad views about everything from geopolitics to zoning laws to the most bizarre conspiracy theories; and what’s worse is that they seem often perversely immune to rational methods of persuasion, bristling with a panoply of biases. It’s a free country and everyone’s entitled to their opinions. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if—without having to resort to positively illiberal measures of censorship and forced re-education—we could get those opinions to be a little more tolerable? What if the secret is all in the way in which evidence and potential beliefs are presented to people, so that with more carefully calibrated interventions we could exert a noncoercive but significant influence toward the truth? Continue reading

Medical assistance in dying: what are we talking about?

Alberto Giubilini

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

 

Medical assistance in dying  – or “MAiD”,  to use the somehow infelicitous acronym – is likely to be a central topic in bioethics this year. That might not be true of bioethics as an academic field, where MAiD has been widely discussed over the past 40 years. But it is likely true of bioethics as a wider societal and political area of discussion. There are two reasons to think this.  First, the topic has attracted a lot of attention the last year, especially with “slippery slope” concerns around Canada’s policies. Second, MAiD has recently been in the news in the UK, where national elections will take place in 2024.  It is not hard to imagine it will feature in the heated political polarization that always accompanies election campaigns.

Little can be done to prevent that kind of polarization. However, some clarity about the different issues at stake might help to steer clear of unnecessary quarrels and focus on the relevant points of disagreement. Without claiming to be exhaustive, here I want to try to take some step in that direction. Continue reading

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