In 2002 the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education, chaired by Mr Eiji Uehiro, established the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. The following year, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics was created within the Philosophy Faculty. Generous support by the Uehiro Foundation enabled the establishment of an annual series of three lectures, The Uehiro Lectures in Practical Ethics.
The goal of the Centre is to encourage and support debate and deeper rational reflection on practical ethics. The Centre as a whole will not promote a particular philosophy, approach, solution or point of view, though its individual members may give an argument to a substantive conclusion as a basis for dialogue, engagement and reflection. It is the method of rational analytic practical ethics that we aim to advance. The vision is Socratic, not missionary. We seek to be inclusive, encouraging debate between different approaches to ethics, aiming to resolve disagreements and identifying key areas of consensus.
Practical ethics should not only advance knowledge by deeper, rational ethical reflection and dialogue, it should change people’s hearts and so better their own lives and the lives of others.
Humanity has flourished and transformed its planet, creating ever more powerful technology with unprecedented potential for great immediate benefit but also for ultimate harm. Its success creates novel problems and challenges, for which its traditional institutions and norms were not developed: climate change, environmental destruction, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, global inequality and poverty, inter-continental migration and multiculturalism, overuse of antibiotics and the world-wide spread of infectious disease, genetic engineering, and biomedical means of life extension and cognitive and moral enhancement, and artificial intelligence. The fate of humanity in the 21st Century and following centuries will to a greater extent than ever before be determined by the choices made by human beings, the leaders and citizens of nations. It is the values, principles and wider ethics of these people that will determine their choices. We aim to enable practical ethics to develop and more effectively guide human choice.
The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics is a group of academic researchers in practical (or applied) ethics. We undertake research, teach, and engage with policy and public debates. In all of these, the Centre’s aim is to use, develop, and present philosophical methods in practical ethics. We strive for clarity and precision in our work, and welcome scrutiny and critical discussion of our arguments.
We often differ in the philosophical views we defend. We welcome staff, students, and visitors from a range of different philosophical, religious, and ethical approaches. What we have in common is a commitment to addressing issues in practical ethics through the application of philosophical methods and a commitment to academic freedom: for academics to be able to decide which topics to address and how to approach them.
Practical ethics engages with some of the most sensitive issues that we face as a society, and as individuals. We don’t expect everyone to agree with the arguments that we put forward. Arguments, ideas, and views expressed by individual researchers at the Centre are not those of the Centre itself, and our arguments are not put forward as advocacy or activism. Our aim is to provide an environment where staff, students, and visitors with a variety of views and approaches can engage in constructive debate and collaboration of academic and public value. To achieve this, we expect all of our members to participate in our academic work in a responsible way: by presenting arguments that are well informed, reasoned, and respectful to all involved and affected, and by being open to criticism on the same basis. Likewise, wherever possible, our public engagement materials and events include a mechanism for comment, discussion, and criticism within the bounds of civil discourse.
Link to other relevant statements
University Statement on Freedom of Speech
Department of Politics and International Relations
The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities is based at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute. It is a collaboration between the Ethox Centre, the Oxford Neuroscience, Ethics and Society Group, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and the Wellcome Unit for History of Medicine. The Centre will conduct research on the challenges to ethics and the humanities presented by advances in neuroscience, big data, genomics and global connectedness and their convergence. The establishment of the new Centre responds to a pressing need for a robust and flexible multidisciplinary research platform in the ethics and related humanities capable of engaging successfully with new and profoundly difficult ethical and social challenges presented by the form, scale, scope and societal implications of these developments. Engaging successfully with such challenges requires a paradigm shift and a change of scale in approaches to ethics and the humanities more generally. The Centre will establish a robust research infrastructure to enable multi- disciplinary teams of medical scientists, bioethicists and researchers in the humanities and social sciences to engage with the complex ethical problems presented by developments in neuroscience, big data, genomics, and global connectedness. Through its research and engagement activities, the Centre aims to lead debate on the ethical requirements for 21st Century scientific research capable both of improving health and of commanding public trust and confidence. The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities is funded by a Wellcome Centre Grant (203132). See all available grant outputs/resources on PMC.
Project Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility: Redesigning Military, Police and Intelligence Institutions in Liberal Democracies
Researcher (PI) Seumas Miller
Collective moral responsibility: International terrorism, such as Al Qaeda, and ISIS, is a major global security threat. Counter-terrorism is a morally complex enterprise involving police, military, intelligence agencies and non-security agencies. Counter-terrorism should be framed as a collective moral responsibility of governments, security institutions and citizens.
Research questions: Miller’s research focuses on the following research questions: how is international terrorism to be conceptually demarcated? What is the required theoretical notion of collective moral responsibility? What counter-terrorist strategies and tactics are effective, morally acceptable and consistent with liberal democracy? How is this inchoate collective moral responsibility to be institutionally embedded in security agencies?
More information here: https://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/content/AdG2014_GTCMR_1.pdf
Host Institution (HI) TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITEIT DELFT
The Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease: Bringing together zoology, history, philosophy, psychology and medicine, our four-year project addresses the central research question: What is the role of collective responsibility in the genesis of and appropriate response to the threat of infectious disease? Our principal aim is to generate disease-specific policy recommendations for collective action on influenza, malaria, antibiotic resistance and vaccine-preventable childhood infections.
The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics is affiliated with two charities, Giving What We Can and 80, 000 Hours. The Centre strongly supports the vision and aims of these two charities. However, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics does not have any financial or administrative responsibility or oversight for these charities which are run by staff and student volunteers working independently.
The Institute for Science & Ethics participated in a £1.3m research project on Climate Geoengineering Governance funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The work was led from the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, (InSIS), University of Oxford, and also involved the Science and Technology Policy Research (SPRU) at the University of Sussex and the Faculty of Laws at University College London (UCL). The project aimed to provide a timely basis for the governance of geoengineering through robust research on the ethical, legal, social and geopolitical implications of a range of geoengineering approaches.
Jointly with TU Delft University we were involved in an NWO funded project Enhancing Responsibility: the effects of cognitive enhancement on moral and legal responsibility . Might some professionals – e.g. surgeons, pilots and soldiers – have a responsibility to cognitively enhance themselves, and once enhanced might they acquire greater responsibilities? The project aims to shed new light on the relationship between responsibility and mental capacity, and help professional associations, law makers, regulators and judges develop appropriate principles
We were involved in a collaborative project with Oxford Martin School's Programme on Mind and Machine (2011-2018). A key challenge for 21st century biology is to understand how the limited biophysical repertoire of individual neurons in the human brain gives rise to behaviour.The Programme on Mind and Machine conducted research on manipulating the brain and its ethical implications and the research continues as part of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour (CNCB).
Horizon 2020 Funded Project: High-density cortical implants for cognitive neuroscience and rehabilitation of speech using brain-computer interfaces (#732032)
BrainCom aimed to develop a new generation of cortical implants for speech neural prostheses applications
BrainCom was a Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Proactive project, funded by the European Commission with 8.35M€ for 5 years (Dec 2016 - Nov 2021)
Taking advantage of unique properties of novel nanomaterials such as graphene, 2D materials and organic semiconductors, BrainCom proposed a radically new technology of ultra-flexible cortical implants enabling stimulation and neural activity decoding over large brain areas with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution.
The results aimed to permit significant advances in the understanding of the dynamics and neural information processing in cortical speech networks and the development of speech rehabilitation solutions using innovative brain-computer interfaces.
BrainCom was coordinated from ICN2 by ICREA Prof. Jose A. Garrido, Group Leader at ICN2 and deputy leader of the Graphene Flagship Biomedical Technologies Work Package.
OUCs Drs Hannah Maslen and Stephen Rainey led the work package on 'Ethics, Implants and Society'.
Further details here.
The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics hosts scholars and students wishing to engage in research in practical and applied ethics as academic visitors. The duration of visits is normally 1-3 terms. Each term at Oxford lasts for eight weeks. Shorter visits depend on the availability of workspace.
It is worth being aware that our visitor program is popular and we receive more enquiries and applications than we are able to support. We are not usually able to support academic visitors whose work is not closely connected to the research and research interests of current members of the centre.
The aim of our visitor programmes is to connect Oxford’s academic community with visitors from the U.K. and abroad by providing connections to faculty members, giving access to university facilities and libraries, and encouraging participation in workshops, seminars and conferences. The Centre also organises social events to encourage visitors to meet each other. Applicants are expected to show a clearly defined research plan that directly pertains to the Centre’s activities. Before departing the Centre, visitors are expected to provide a brief report (A4 one page) summarising what was accomplished during their time in Oxford.
We currently run four academic visitor programmes:
1. The Visiting Scholars Programme
The Visiting Scholars Programme is for academics and professionals working on practical and applied ethics. Applicants should hold a doctorate, or have professional experience in addition to an MA or comparable degree. To be eligible to apply for academic visitor status, prospective applicants must hold an established teaching post in a Philosophy department at another University, or hold an equivalent post in a relevant professional field (ie Law or Medicine). A successful applicant will have a sponsor within the Centre who will be her/his main contact, though s/he should not expect supervision or formal mentoring. Visiting scholars are invited to attend St Cross Ethics Seminar Series; Uehiro Practical Ethics Seminar Series; Uehiro Lectures; Wellcome Lectures in Neuroethics; and other special lectures organised during term time. Visiting scholars may attend other lectures and seminars within the University only with the prior permission of the lecturer or class-giver. The Centre cannot provide financial support to visiting scholars; all applicants must secure external funding for their time in Oxford. Visiting scholars will be entitled to an Academic Visitor University Card, allowing them to use specialist libraries in Oxford. Visiting Scholar status is usually held for a term or equivalent (three months) in the first instance, and may vary at the discretion of the Visitor Committee. Research Fellows whose funder pays the Fellow directly and requires them to find a host institute may be considered for the period of the fellowship on a separate basis as a Hosted Research Fellow.
2. The Visiting Student Programme
The Visiting Student Programme is primarily for graduate students working on practical and applied ethics. Prospective visitors will normally be expected to apply for Recognised Student status via the University’s Recognised Student programme which involves payment of fees to the University. Further information is available at https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/other-options-for-graduates?wssl=1 , and on the Faculty of Philosophy website http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/recognised-students
Exceptionally, graduate or advanced undergraduate students may be accepted as informal visitors for periods of less than one month outside of the Recognised Student status. No fees are payable for this status. Informal visitors receive no University Card and no access to specialist libraries in Oxford. They can obtain a Bodleian Reader’s Card for a small fee which will allow access to the Bodleian Library. The Centre cannot provide financial support to any of its visiting students; all applicants must secure external funding for their time in Oxford.
3. Monash BMedSc Students
The Uehiro Centre accepts up to two BMedSc students from Monash University’s medical programme each year. The academic programme is tailored to Monash University’s requirements, and there is a separate application process through Monash University’s BMedSc office.
4. The Oxford-Uehiro-St Cross Visiting Programme
The Oxford-Uehiro-St Cross Visiting Programme has been established by the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education with a view to providing opportunities for graduate students, postdoctoral and senior academics who are ordinarily resident in Japan to study or conduct research at the University of Oxford for nine or twelve months as a Visiting Scholar. The visiting programme aims to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers.
How to Apply
We aim to take 4 – 5 visitors every term, although the specific number depends on the availability of workspace. Please note that desk space cannot be guaranteed, though we will endeavour to provide it where possible. Applications for the Visiting Scholars Programme are to be submitted at least 6 months in advance of the proposed dates of the visit for all Visa Nationals, and 3 months in advance for non-visa nationals (if visiting for 6 months or less. If visiting for over 6 months, then non-visa nationals will also need to apply 6 months prior to their visit). We will accept late applications only in exceptional circumstances. Applications for the Visiting Student Programme* must all be submitted 6 months in advance of the proposed visit.
If you wish to apply for the Visiting Scholars Programme or Visiting Student Programme, please download the relevant form here:
• Visiting Scholars Programme Application Forms & Instructions
• Visiting Student Programme Application Forms & Instructions (application deadline is two terms in advance of proposed visit dates - see here for term dates)*
A panel of the Centre staff will assess each application to decide on the successful applicants. We consider the applicant’s qualifications, past achievements and future prospects, proposed research and its thematic connection to the activities of the Centre.
* Applications for an informal student visit of up to one month can be made in accordance with the Visiting Scholar deadlines, as can EU/Swiss nationals applying for Recognised Student status. However in the latter case we do recommend two terms in advance to avoid a rushed request for subsequent University approval of Recognised Student status.
This Visiting Programme has been established by the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education with a view to providing opportunities for graduate students, postdoctoral and senior academics who are ordinarily resident in Japan to study or conduct research at the University of Oxford for nine or twelve months as a Visiting Scholar. The award is available in the field of practical ethics. A successful graduate student candidate will normally be supervised by a Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre and academic staff at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and a successful postdoctoral or senior academic candidate will conduct their own relevant research at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Successful candidates in either case will reside at St Cross College enabling him/her to benefit from the true Oxford college experience. The Visiting Programme aims to provide career development opportunities for those who are at a relatively early stage of their academic careers.
To be eligible for the award a candidate must:
(a) be a graduate student, postdoctoral researcher or Lecturer/Professor at a university in Japan in the field of bioethics, practical ethics, medical ethics, or applied ethics. If no suitable candidate from within these disciplines presents him/herself, applications from other Humanities and Social Sciences may also be considered, as long as the applicant’s research pertains to or has relevance to practical ethics
(b) be adequately proficient in English to satisfy UK Border Agency visa requirement (target IELTS 7 or TOEFL iBT100)
(c) provide a report on returning to Japan
(d) the award is available to individuals who are ‘ordinarily resident in Japan’ and planning to return home after their period of study or research in Oxford
(e) be an individual whose native language is Japanese
For nine or twelve months, beginning in October; requests to begin an award in April will be considered depending on circumstances.
Number of awards available
Up to two awards in total will be available for each academic year.
Applications for 2023/24 academic year are to be submitted between 17 February and 16 March 2023.
Amount of Award
Up to £30,000 per award as required to cover the following expenses:
Course fee (for graduate students); College fee; Living costs; One round trip airfare to/from the UK; Visa application cost and NHS surcharge.
Application materials (all in English)
- One-page research proposal
- Three academic references (for graduate students one should be from your academic supervisor)
- Academic essay or other writing sample
- IELTS English language proficiency certificate - target IELTS 7 (overall band score) or TOEFL iBT100)
All the application documents should be submitted between 17 February and 16 March 2023 by email to: University of Oxford Japan Office at email@example.com under the heading "Oxford Uehiro-St Cross Visiting Programme".
Academic references should be sent directly to the Japan Office by post or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org under the heading "Visiting Programme Reference for NAME OF APPLICANT". If sent by email, the referee should send directly from his or her university/institution domain. If sent by post, the referee should send directly to University of Oxford Japan Office, Sanbancho UF Building 1F, 6-3 Sanbancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0075.
(a) screening of application materials by Oxford Uehiro Centre academic staff
(b) interview(s) by Oxford Uehiro Centre academic staff (via skype and/or telephone)
The final decision will be made by a Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.
The expectation is that successful graduate student candidates will have Recognized Student status at the University of Oxford.
The successful candidate will be asked to supply the one-page research proposal and the CV in Japanese when the offer is made.
For information see: https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/new/recognised
Other sources of information that may be of interest:
- Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics http://www.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/
- St Cross College http://www.stx.ox.ac.uk/
- University of Oxford http://www.ox.ac.uk/
- Faculty of Philosophy http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/
- Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education http://www.rinri.or.jp/
- University of Oxford Japan Office http://oxfordujapan.org/
Please note that in the highly unusual circumstances whereby an award is offered and accepted but the recipient cancels or significantly postpones their research visit, depending on the reasons for this decision the individual may be responsible for expenses undertaken in preparation for their visit.
The Centre has a strong commitment to teaching ethics. Our staff contribute to the teaching of ethics within the Oxford philosophy faculty and the professional schools (Saïd Business School and School of Medicine). In addition we are able to provide resources, advice and outreach for secondary school teachers on a range of ethical issues. We welcome contact with all those involved in teaching and researching ethics.
The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics does not itself accept students, graduate or undergraduate, though its staff do teach students accepted by the University of Oxford. For enquiries regarding graduate or undergraduate study please see the Faculty of Philosophy website philosophy.ox.ac.uk/admissions.
Please see links below for details of our new Masters course, Graduate Discussion Group and BPhil Classes.
Practical Ethics Bites is a free podcast series aimed specifically at a schools audience. These podcasts are designed to link in with the Philosophy and Religious Studies A-Level syllabus.
We are honoured to have been entrusted with Derek Parfit’s Library by his wife, Professor Janet Radcliffe Richards. We are currently preparing the collection to be made available as a standalone library that will be a resource for Parfit scholars for generations to come. We would like to thank Professor Radcliffe Richards on behalf of the University for her generosity.
Further information on the Library, its launch, and how to access the collection will follow.
Derek Parfit 1942-2017
Derek Parfit was one of the founders of practical ethics as a discipline. His books, Reasons and Persons, and On What Matters, are the leading texts of the field.
We were privileged and were enormously grateful to receive advice and support from Derek throughout the Centre’s life. Even more so, we were privileged to be working in Oxford alongside him. His memory and his work will live on for generations.
For many of us at the Centre, Derek was not only an inspirational colleague, but also a teacher, mentor, and most importantly, friend. He will be greatly missed throughout Oxford, and far beyond in the international philosophical community, many of whom gathered in June for a celebration of his life and work.
Memorial Service: Speeches from Derek Parfit’s memorial service can be viewed here.
Members of the Centre discuss Derek’s impact on practical ethics in a new weekly series on our YouTube channel. See playlist below.https://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PLrZLXu5hwoDOvCcvfl8hIH_TU8WE6gmT5
Members of the centre are available to provide ethics advice and consultancy for a wide variety of research projects and areas. This includes novel biotechnology, medicine, AI, professional ethics and other areas involving challenging or conflicting ethical considerations. It could include one-off consultation, teaching, written ethical analysis, or commissioning of ethics research.
Please direct enquiries to Liz Sanders.
01865 286928 | email@example.com