2022-2023 Bioethics Public Seminar Series

Can’t join us live? All seminars are recorded and posted in our recorded webinar library.

Fall 2022

Precision Medicine and Distributive Justice: Wicked Problems for Democratic Deliberation

November 16 calendar icon
  • Leonard M. Fleck, PhD
  • Professor
  • Center for Bioethics and Social Justice, College of Human Medicine
  • Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Letters

Metastatic cancer and costly precision medicines generate extremely complex problems of health care justice. Targeted cancer therapies yield only very marginal gains in life expectancy for most patients at very great cost, thereby threatening the just allocation of limited health care resources. Philosophic theories of justice cannot address adequately the “wicked” ethical problems associated with these targeted therapies. Following Rawls, Fleck argues for a political conception of health care justice, and a fair and inclusive process of democratic deliberation governed by public reason. The virtue of democratic deliberation is that citizens can fashion autonomously and publicly shared understandings to fairly address the complex problems of health care justice generated by precision medicine. “Wicked” problems can metastasize if rationing decisions are made invisibly. A fair and inclusive process of democratic deliberation can make these “wicked” problems visible, and subject, to fair public reason constraints. What constrained choices do you believe you would endorse with your fellow citizens as being “just enough”?

Leonard M. Fleck, PhD, is a professor in the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice and the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University. Dr. Fleck's interests focus on medical ethics, health care policy, priority-setting and rationing, and reproductive decision-making. He explores the role of community dialogue (rational democratic deliberation) in addressing controversial issues of ethics and public policy related to emerging genetic technologies. More recently, he has completed a book-length manuscript that addresses a number of ethical and policy issues related to precision medicine, primarily in a cancer treatment context. He also completed another book that addresses several contemporary issues related to bioethics and religion from a Rawlsian public reason perspective.

Spring 2023

Title to be announced

February 15 calendar icon
  • Michelle T. Pham, PhD
  • Assistant Professor
  • Center for Bioethics and Social Justice and Department of Medicine, College of Human Medicine
  • Wednesday, February 15, 2023
  • 1:30-2:30 PM EST (UTC−05:00)

Title to be announced

April 19 calendar icon
  • Jennifer McCurdy, PhD, BSN, MH, HEC-C
  • Assistant Professor
  • Center for Bioethics and Social Justice, College of Human Medicine
  • Wednesday, April 19, 2023
  • 1:30-2:30 PM EDT (UTC−04:00)