Philosophy Student Explores Healthcare Ethics, Political Disagreement

Aaron Ancell, Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy, coauthored a paper that was published this month in Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics.

The paper, “How to Allow Conscientious Objections in Medicine While Protecting Patient Rights,” challenges those who propose an outright ban on conscientious objections in medicine, arguing that many conscientious objections must be permitted simply because they fall within the range of freedom doctors have to define the scope of their own practices. The latter half of the paper proposes a framework for permitting certain conscientious objections while mitigating the unjust burdens that such objections often impose on patients.

Ancell’s dissertation examines the nature and normative implications of political disagreement, and seeks to develop a normative theory of democracy that is responsive to many of the most troubling features of contemporary politics, such as polarization and the so-called “culture wars.”

In his capacity as a Rethinking Regulation Graduate Fellow, he is interested primarily in questions about the democratic legitimacy of regulatory governance and the appropriate roles of experts, businesses and “the people” in regulatory processes. The Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics fosters interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching and engagement on the design and performance of regulatory systems across a broad range of policy arenas.

Ancell is also a Graduate Research Student in the Moral Attitudes and Decision-making Lab and a member of a new Bass Connections project aimed at combating political polarization by teaching people to ask better questions.

All students can apply for Bass Connections project teams by February 17. Many teams offer project management opportunities for graduate and professional students.

Originally published in the newsletter of the Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics