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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School

Towards a republic of health? Freedom and solidarity in public health and health policy Event

Health Ethics and Law (HEAL)
Towards a republic of health?
13 - 14 May 2014
Chilworth Manor Southampton

For more information regarding this event, please email Dr John Coggon at .

Event details

The Centre for Health, Ethics and Law (HEAL), University of Southampton and the Institute of Health and Social Policy (IHSP), McGill University are hosting a workshop to examine the role of Republican political theory in mainstream practical and theoretical debates concerning good (public) health policy, practices, and interventions.

Outline, Rationale, and Objectives:
The primary objective of the meeting will be to bring a sustained political-philosophical analysis concerning neo-Roman republicanism into mainstream practical and theoretical debates concerning good public health policy, practices, and interventions.

Political philosophers in the past decade have discovered the many intricate ethical issues emerging in relation to health, including most recently public health. The debate is largely dominated by Norman Daniels' Rawlsian framework, Sen's Capability Theory, and most recently luck-egalitarianism, but each of these perspectives remains highly contested. Our aim is to examine whether the ideas emerging from the republican tradition, recently revived by Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner, can offer a useful complement or alternative to existing philosophical thinking about health, public health, and health policy. Republicanism's strong focus on freedom-as-nondomination - requiring both robust protections of the conditions that promote citizen well-being and freedom, and strong control over public interventions potentially undermining that freedom - will challenge existing theories and practices in the fields of public health and health policy.

A related objective of the meeting is to use public health and health policy as “test cases” for the practical relevance of republican political theory. Much of the research effort in the past decade has focused on establishing the philosophical foundations of the republican theory of freedom-as-nondomination, with comparatively little effort expended on examining its implications in social and political life. In particular, with a few notable exceptions (e.g. Bruce Jennings), contemporary republicans have neglected to test their intuitions and theories in relation to health and public health. Our hope is that the interaction between (republican) political philosophers and health and public health scholars will not only invigorate the debate in health but also feed back into the political theory of republican freedom and domination.

Bringing together international experts from philosophy, public health, law, and health sciences, the workshop will therefore represent the start of sustained and mutually re-informing discussions between theory and practice, with a view to developing more ethically vigorous public health practice.

John Coggon, University of Southampton, UK
Jurgen De Wispelaere, McGill University, Canada


  • Gideon Calder, University of South Wales
  • John Coggon, Southampton University
  • Jurgen De Wispelaere, McGill University
  • Carina Fourie, University of Zurich
  • Valerie Gateau, Universite Paris Diderot
  • Bruce Jennings, Yale University
  • Stephen John, Cambridge University
  • Steve Latham, Yale University
  • Cillian McBride, Queen's University Belfast Leticia Morales, McGill University
  • Christian Munthe, Gothenburg University
  • Morten Nielsen, Copenhagen University
  • David Owen, Southampton University
  • Paul Scott, Southampton University
  • Keith Syrett, Cardiff University
  • A.M. Viens, Southampton University
  • Daniel Weinstock, McGill University
  • Karen Yeung, King's College, London

For information contact John Coggon ( )  or Jurgen De Wispelaere ( )

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