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Ireland’s most distinguished living philosopher to deliver key note speech at forthcoming Symposium on Ethics, Politics, and Health at Mary Immaculate College


During his inaugural address in November 2011 President Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland, spoke of his intention to hold a number of Presidency Seminars which would “reflect and explore themes important to our shared life yet separate and wider than legislative demand, themes such as the restoration of trust in our institutions, the ethical connection between our economy and society, the future of a Europe built on peace, social solidarity and sustainability”.

Following this worthy initiative, the Department of Philosophy at Mary Immaculate College Limerick is now delighted to host the Ethics, Politics, and Health Symposium as part of the President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative.

The symposium, which will take place on Tuesday 18th November in MIC, will feature a number of renowned speakers including keynote speaker, Prof. William Desmond, of the Catholic University of Louvain, who will speak on the topic of Ethical Care and the Politics of Patience. Prof. Desmond is Ireland’s most distinguished living philosopher and one of the leading voices in contemporary philosophy in the continental tradition. He is Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy, Catholic University of Leuven, and David R. Cook Visiting Chair in Philosophy at Villanova University in Philadelphia.  Prof. Desmond is the author of over a dozen books on a wide range of topics such as German idealism, metaphysics, philosophy and religion, aesthetics, and ethics. These books include: The Intimate Strangeness of Being. Metaphysics after Dialectic; God and the Between; Ethics and the Between; Being and the Between; Beyond Hegel and Dialectic: Speculation, cult, and comedy; Philosophy and its Others: Ways of Being and Mind; and Desire, Dialectic, and Otherness: An Essay on Origins. He is past president of the Hegel Society of America, the Metaphysical Society of America, and the American Catholic Philosophical Association.


Other speakers include Prof. Thom Brooks, Professor and Chair in Law and Government at Durham Law School, who will speak on the topic of ‘Justice as Stakeholding’; Dr. Adina Preda, a lecturer in political theory at the University of Limerick whose talk will look at ‘Partial Equality or Justice?’; Dr. Heike Felzmann, lecturer in philosophy at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a member of the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis (COBRA) at NUIG will look at ‘My genes, myself? Ethical issues regarding direct-to-consumer genetic testing’; Dr. Darian Meacham, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of the West of England, Bristol, who will speak on the topic of ‘Enhancement, Impairment and the Imperative of Adversity’ and Dr. Treasa Campbell, a lecturer on the Certificate in General Learning and Personal Development (MIC) whose topic is entitled ‘Voicing Unease: Care Ethics in the Professionalization of Social Care’. More information on lecture content and speakers biographies may be accessed here.

Speaking on the forthcoming symposium, Dr. Niall Keane, Head of Philosophy at MIC said;
“The recent political and economic crisis has forced us to rethink questions of ethics, politics, and civic responsibility, and has forced us to recognise there is an ethics of living well and of living well together which is not reducible to material well-being. Between the fields of ethics and politics there can be found a sort of reciprocal instruction around the themes of singularity and plurality, identity and difference, and this reciprocity underpins our living well and acting well together. And yet living well together requires a level of health so as to be open and receptive to questions of ethics, justice, and civic responsibility and to the world as such”.

Continuing he said;
“Our symposium, in an attempt to get ethics, as President Higgins put it, ‘out of the ivory tower and the pulpit, back down into the market square’, will address these three distinct yet related themes and will examine how the issue of health is intimately related to the issues of politics and/or ethics, both practically and theoretically understood. It is the Philosophy Department’s great honour and pleasure to organise and host such an event.” 

Speaking about the ‘Ethics Initiative’ and the various events it will give rise to, President Higgins said:

“It is my hope that these individual events and other initiatives in the discourse on ethics will be the source of extensive public debates, and meet the expectations of our citizens for such values as will enable us to build a sustainable social economy and a society which is profoundly ethical and inclusive. As we leave behind a crisis that caused such reputational damage to our country, this debate will, I hope, contribute to building more just and sustainable versions of Ireland’s future, and help establish an ethical dimension and discourse as key parts of our regulatory frameworks and our contribution to a wider European and global debate.”

The Ethics, Politics, and Health Symposium, as part of the ‘President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative’, will take place on Tuesday 18th November from 9.30am – 6pm in G10, Mary Immaculate College.  Admission is free but booking is essential. To reserve your place please contact Linda.McGrath@mic.ul.ie

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