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

Rethinking Regulation Program Calls for Graduate Student Research Award Proposals


Deadline: January 27, 2017

The Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics invites graduate and professional students to apply for collaborative research awards. Recipients are current, or will become, members of the Rethinking Regulation-Graduate Student Working Group (RR-GSWG), which provides a forum for student-led interdisciplinary discussion, research, and analysis of issues related to regulatory governance. RR-GSWG members represent a variety of Duke disciplines/programs and are united by a common interest in regulatory governance and a shared commitment to interdisciplinary collaborative inquiry in the service of society.

The Rethinking Regulation Program will furnish up to $2,000 per award and anticipates making 3-5 awards. Awards will be provided in support of collaborative analyses of regulatory governance (i.e., including two or more RR-GSWG members) which advance the academic goals of recipients and align with the mission of the RR-GSWG. Projects selected will also be awarded a faculty mentor from the Rethinking Regulation program with whom recipients may consult throughout the project. Examples of eligible projects are provided below, but other project types will be considered:

  • Pilot a collaborative research study with other RR-GSWG members, Rethinking Regulation faculty, and/or external stakeholders
  • Conduct analysis of a contemporary regulatory policy issue and document findings in a report for internal or external stakeholders
  • Develop a co-authored research paper or policy brief

Application Requirements

  • Applicants must be enrolled in a Duke graduate or professional program for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters and must be current members of the Rethinking Regulation-Graduate Student Working Group (to join, email Mercy DeMenno:
  • Applicants must submit contact information and CVs for all project members along with a brief research proposal (not to exceed three pages) to Amber Díaz Pearson ( by 5:00pm on Monday, October 17. The proposal should include the following:
    • Summary of the research project and planned research product(s)
    • Description of the project’s relevance to the study of regulatory governance and the Rethinking Regulation Program’s mission
    • Description of the project’s intellectual contribution to the RR-GSWG

Award Requirements

  • Recipients are expected to present their (ongoing) research projects to the Rethinking Regulation community during the spring 2017 semester and document the outcome(s) of the projects in a report (due to Amber Dí&iacuteaz Pearson by May 31, 2017)
  • Recipients will be designated Kenan Graduate Scholars with the Rethinking Regulation Program and will be invited to attend the Rethinking Regulation seminar series and participate in the RR-GSWG throughout the 2016-2017 academic year.