Centre for Applied Ethics

With a membership that draws on wide-ranging expertise, the Centre's particular concerns are with ethical issues in the biomedical sciences, the environment, international relations and the professions.

The aims of the Centre are promoted through publications, lectures, conferences and research projects. The Centre also works in association with other individuals and centres through out the United Kingdom, and Western and Central Europe.

It is the home of the journal, Health Care Analysis


The Centre for Applied Ethics was founded in 1989 with the aims of promoting the study of and public interest in applied ethics, and of facilitating research in applied ethics.

Issues in the philosophy of medicine

The Centre's interests include the use of health-related quality of life measures, problems of health care resource allocation, nursing ethics, reproductive technology, and genetic engineering.

Professor Chadwick is director of Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genetics (CESAGEN), and other members of the Centre have contributed, in particular to CESAGEN’s theme 2: Therapies and Enhancement.

Members of the Centre have also worked in cooperation with staff in Cardiff’s School of Religious and Theological Studies in the project ‘Meanings of Genetics’. The Centre has organised two symposia on exploring the relationship between genetics and the humanities (in March 2006 and September 2007). The papers from the first symposium have been published in Health Care Analysis 15(1), 2007.

Issues in environmental philosophy and ethics

The Centre has interests in many areas of environmental philosophy. These include environmental values and decision-making, the field in which the Centre, jointly with the Ian Ramsey Centre, Oxford University, published Robin Attfield and Katharine Dell (eds.), Values, Conflict and the Environment (1989). This work remains available in a second edition, published by Avebury in 1996.

Other areas of interest include obligations to future generations and to preserve biodiversity. Professor Robin Attfield participated in 1996 in a government of Finland conference on ‘Generations’; a version of this paper, ‘Environmental Ethics and Intergenerational Equity’ was published in Inquiry (Oslo), 41, in 1998. In 1999 he participated in an international seminar on ‘Philosophy and Biodiversity’ at the University of Turku, Finland, the proceedings of which are published by Cambridge University Press as Philosophy and Biodiversity, edited by Marku Oksanen and Juhani Pietarinen, 2004.

In 1993, Cardiff hosted the Royal Institute of Philosophy conference ‘Philosophy and the Natural Environment’, which covered the whole field of environmental philosophy. Professor Holmes Rolston was the keynotes speaker; other speakers included Professors Frederick Ferre, Mary Midgley and Professor Ruth Chadwick. This conference issued in the publication of a proceedings volume: Robin Attfield and Andrew Belsey (eds.),Philosophy and the Natural Environment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

A further contribution to the environmental philosophy field was made in a collection of essays: Robin Attfield, Environmental Philosophy: Principles and Prospects, Aldershot and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1994.

During the years 1999 and 2000, Robin Attfield participated in the interdisciplinary ‘Stewardship’ project of the World Wide Fund for Nature (Scotland), of which a report was published by WWF (Scotland) at the conclusion of the project.

Global and international aspects of environmental problems remain a further interest. This ongoing interest is reflected in the themes of Robin Attfield’s The Ethics of the Global Environment, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press and West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1999.

Professional ethics

The Centre is interested in the growth and nature of the ideology of professionalism, and in the development of ethical codes of conduct for the professions. This work covers not merely the traditional focus of professional ethics (such as medicine, nursing and journalism) but also sport and leisure. Dr David Badcott is currently organising a special issue of the journal Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy devoted to the problem of the definition and articulation of professional values.

Issues in development and international relations

The Centre has longstanding interests in the philosophy of development, and members have participated in a number of conferences and other activities of the International Development Ethics Association, some of them held in Cardiff. The 1999 Centre Annual Lecture, given by Professor Godwin Sogolo, of theUniversity of Ibadan,Nigeria, focused on Africa and on issues surrounding sustainable development.

Robin Attfield participated between 1997 and 1999 in the Global Citizenship project of the University of Aberdeen Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Society, coordinated by Dr Nigel Dower, and funded by the Gordon Cook Foundation. The report of this project is available from CPTS, and a reader suitable for courses on global citizenship is being prepared.

During 1999, Robin Attfield gave lectures at the Universities of Stellenbosch, Cape Town and UNISA (Pretoria) on developmental and environmental subjects. Research collaboration continues with Professor Johan Hattingh, Head of the Centre for Environmental Ethics at Stellenbosch University.

European Union Research Projects

Dignity and the Elderly

A fully funded action, funded by the European Commission, under the Fifth Framework, 2001-2004. This project is co-ordinated by Dr Win Tadd, University of Wales, College of Medicine.

Virtues and Chronic Illness

A fully funded action, funded by European Commission, under BIOMED, 1998-2000. This project is co-ordinated by Professor Alastair Campbell, University of Bristol.

The Ethical QALY

'An investigation of the ethical implications of measures of quality of life applicable to a range of diseases and health states for use in the allocation of resources in prevention, diagnosis and treatment'

A Concerted Action, funded by the European Commission, under the BIOMED and PECO programmes, 1993-1996. This action was co-ordinated from the Centre for Applied Ethics, with participants in Wales, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Greece. Additional funding was received for 1994-1996, under the PECO scheme, for participation by groups from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

Limiting Access to Health Care in Various European Countries

'A Study of the Legitimacy of Government Control and the Relevance of Consumer and Provider Preferences'

A Concerted Action, funded by the European Commission, under BIOMED, 1994-1996. This action was co-ordinated by Dr Gert Jan van der Wilt, from the Catholic University of Nijmegen.


Academic staff