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Save the Date: McDonald Centre Annual Conference

Thursday, 12 January 2023 - 4:45pm
Healthcare Practitioner


Conditions for Corrosion: How Are Good Healthcare Practitioners Made and Lost?

27 - 29 June 2023

Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford



What factors are creating the conditions for corroding practitioners’ capacity to develop a well-ordered professional identity? How is corrosion associated with, for example, the healthcare institutions, laws and systems within which practitioners operate? How do such conditions, as they influence the everyday practices of healthcare practitioners, constrain practitioners in their desire to act for the good, in accordance with what they understand to be their vocation? 

This international, interdisciplinary conference brings together those with dual expertise in both healthcare and ethics or theology to attempt to diagnose the conditions for corrosion which currently prevail and consider what should be done to address them. 

What counts as corrosion or enhancement will depend on a judgment between rival conceptions of certain ethical considerations. These include the requirements of justice or the nature of the good. Choices between such rival conceptions will have far-reaching consequences. For example, amidst changing professional mores and legal regimes (in the USA, UK and parts of the EU), medicine’s traditional focus on the good of solely seeking patients’ health is now under critical scrutiny, legal challenge and complex institutional pressures. Just where the way of medicine should lie in relation to such changes requires robust societal and professional debate. 

Foci for entering critically into this debate might include: conflicts between traditional and more recent ways of conceiving the goals and task of medicine; the impact on professional identity of differences about how we die well; the content and goals of professional formation (e.g. through university training/education, clinical training); the precise ways in which ethical principles shape the institutional environments in which practitioners seek a well-ordered professional identity (e.g. marketisation; relevant policy/law). 

While the conference title accents an understanding of corrosion, it will place significant weight on proposing pathways for repair. Accordingly, one fruit of the exercise may be to contribute thinking targeted to support physicians/doctors and other health care practitioners who bear the burden of protecting healthcare from corrosion. Outputs may include any or all of (i) special journal issues, (ii) online publications, (iii) podcasts, and (iv) contributions to relevant policy debates.


The conference is organised by:

Joshua Hordern, PhD, Professor of Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford; Governing Body Fellow, Harris Manchester College; Director, Healthcare Values Partnership, and Associate Director, McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics and Public Life, University of Oxford 

Lydia Dugdale, MD, MAR, Dorothy L and Daniel H Silberberg Associate Professor of Medicine; Director, Columbia Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons 

Farr Curlin, MD, Josiah C Trent Professor of Medical Humanities, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, & History of Medicine, Duke University; Co-director, Theology, Medicine, and Culture, Duke Divinity School 

Ashley Moyse, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and McDonald Scholar, Columbia Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons; Director, Columbia Character Cooperative; Research Fellow, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford 

Image credit: Mulyadi, free to use under the Unsplash License.