CFP: Exploitation in Bioethics

Submission deadline: August 20, 2018

Conference date(s):
November 8, 2018 - November 9, 2018

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark



Exploitation occupies a significant place in certain bioethical debates, particularly within clinical research, commercial surrogacy, biobanking, and organ trade. In these domains, moral concerns regarding, for example, fairness in transaction, decision-making on the backdrop of disadvantaged circumstances, and the burdens of risk of some persons for the benefit of others, are commonly conveyed in terms of exploitation. In most deliberations about exploitation in bioethics, exploitation has a certain tie to a concept of vulnerability: exploitation is particularly emphasized, and has particular rhetorical force, when affecting people in vulnerable circumstances. Some theories of exploitation are directly vulnerability-based, while others are confronted with the stark intuitions that there is something morally unsavory about situations allowing entrance into exploitative relations, despite the presence of (at least formal) consent. 

While the concept has gained a certain level of scholarly attention in recent years, it remains muddy and underexplored. The aim of this workshop is to address this blurry picture, believing that the understanding of exploitation and its relevance for bioethics would benefit greatly from further conceptual analyses, examination of implications in terms of appropriate moral responses, inquiry into its components such as benefit or unfairness, and investigations of its connections to concepts such as vulnerability, voluntariness and consent. 

Apart from the aforementioned bioethical domains, bioethics at large has been relatively void of considerations of exploitation. Ethical scrutiny of e.g. emerging biotechnologies such as personalized medicine or gene editing, tend to focus on issues of consent, benefit and risk, potentially leaving out relevant concerns of that may be framed in terms of exploitation. Can attention to the concept of exploitation contribute to a more complete ethics of biotechnologies, help organizing and formulating particular ethical concerns, or guide ethically appropriate implementations of certain biotechnologies? Perspectives on these questions are particularly welcome. 

We welcome papers exploring the concept of exploitation in bioethics from a wide variety of perspectives. Suggestions for topics are:

- Exploring the relevance of exploitation to the implementation of certain biotechnologies

- Exploring the relation of exploitation to vulnerability

- Exploring the relation of exploitation to voluntariness, consent, autonomy or limited-choice situations.

- Exploring the relation of exploitation to fairness, benefit, harm, or risk.

- Contributing to the existing debates of exploitation in bioethics, for instance the ongoing debates of undue inducements or post-trial access to treatment in clinical research ethics. 

Confirmed speakers: 

Ruth Sample (University of New Hampshire) 

Erik Malmqvist (Linköping University)

Danielle Wenner (Carnegie Mellon University)

Deadline and submission: 

Papers should be suitable for a 30 minutes presentation, followed by time for discussion. Please send your abstract (½ – 1 pages) to Katla Heðinsdóttir on kh@hum.ku.dkno later than Monday August 20th. Include your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information. Notifications on acceptance will be sent out by the beginning of September. The call is open to all researchers and graduate students. 

Workshop organizers:

Katla Heðinsdóttir, PhD fellow, and Nana Cecilie Halmsted Kongsholm, post.doc., University of Copenhagen. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at kh@hum.ku.dkor

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