03 September 2010

Essex Autonomy Project holds first international conference

The first international conference organised as part of the Essex Autonomy Project will be held at the Institute of Philosophy in London this weekend (Saturday 4 September and Sunday 5 September).

The conference, titled The Vexed and Contentious History of Autonomy, is fully booked and is part of an ambitious programme of events looking at all aspects of autonomous judgement.

One of the main aims of this programme of conferences, workshops and lectures is to foster genuinely interdisciplinary dialogue amongst those working on the theory of autonomy and practitioners faced with navigating the issues surrounding autonomy on the ground.

This first international conference will bring together leading academics from the UK, the United States and Europe to investigate the turbulent history of the notion of autonomy, from the ancient Greeks to modernity.

See the full programme for The Vexed and Contentious History of Autonomy here

The Essex Autonomy Project is based at the Department of Philosophy in the University of Essex and is financed by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

As part of the wider project, over the next three years co-directors Professor Wayne Martin and Dr Fabian Freyenhagen will work with leading lawyers, clinical and forensic psychiatrists, social welfare officers and public policy experts.

Professor Martin said: 'A crucial element of our methodology is to bring together philosophers working on the theory of autonomy and decision making with working professionals in law, psychiatric medicine and social policy.

'Philosophical theories can be tested and strengthened by application to real-world challenges, while practitioners can make use of philosophical approaches to find a way through some of the vexing challenges endemic in these issues.'

Professor Martin said health professionals in particular were facing huge challenges every day in deciding the right course of action for patients or clients due to recent European and UK court cases and the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act in 2005.

He said: 'They are hungry for resources to help them think through these hard problems.'

The project will combine analysis of the different theories of self determination with discussions of concrete practical cases.

The next interdisciplinary workshop titled Consent at an Impasse is on Friday 26 November and Saturday 27 November.

For more information see: www.essex.ac.uk/philosophy

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