The work of EoP is funded by a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain, for the investigation of the ethics of powerlessness and the theological virtues today. The project started in July 2015 and will run for three years.
We develop an ethical framework for understanding and responding to circumstances of profoundly diminished agency, from the perspective of both the affected individuals and those who care for them.
We draw on the resources of phenomenology to make clear the underlying structure of experiences of powerlessness. We further draw on a neglected source in the history of Christian ethics in order to recover an understanding of what Thomas Aquinas described as the theological virtues: faith, hope and love (or charity – caritas).
Our hypothesis is that a suitably adapted understanding of the theological virtues can provide the core of an ethics of powerlessness that can in turn provide guidance in navigating the challenges of diminished agency – in secular as well as religious contexts.
We apply the results of our investigation to the contemporary public policy crisis concerning ethical care for aged or terminally ill patients in NHS settings.
Principal InvestigatorSchool of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex
Béatrice Han-Pile studied philosophy, history and literature at the École Normale Supérieure and was awarded a Fellowship from the Thiers Foundation while completing her doctoral thesis on Michel Foucault.
Co-InvestigatorSchool of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex
Dan Watts is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Essex and Co-Investigator on EoP. His research focuses on Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein and the phenomenological tradition; and on issues in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of religion and moral philosophy.