WCB 2010: The Post-Mortem


For those of you who’ve just spent four Singaporean days braving fierce heat and humidity outside and fierce air-conditioning inside, how was it for you?  What were the hits and misses of this year’s WCB?

I’ll start the ball rolling: I particularly enjoyed Anthony Wrigley’s paper on proxy proxies, and am looking forward to the publication of the complete version – I think I’ve identified a problem, but I’d want to see the finished product before I say too much.  I also liked the paper on assisted self-harm by Kerry Gutridge.  Malcolm Parker’s paper was interesting, though problematic, as was Pam Kolopack’s.  Steve Wilkinson is always worth hearing – I think that, as long as you buy consequentialism, he’s got the saviour sibling argument pretty much wrapped up – as are Katrien Devolder and Tom Douglas.

For me, the fail of the conference was the paper that talked about magic dancing as a cure for cancer.  I’ll give no details: you know who you are, and the others who sat through your paper do, too.  Kitsch moment of the conference had to be the opening ceremony: it was nice to have the President of Singapore there, I suppose – but the big red button was a bit much.

And I think I’m only one of a significant group who has a request for the next WCB: can we have some more proper philosophy, please?  Failing that, just an argument would be lovely.  Magic dancing aside, there were some really dire papers – and probably enough to swamp the good ones that had substance to them – and the problem was generally reducible to being about a serious lack of structured argument.  I know that bioethics is supposed to be a broad discipline… but, all the same, there are plenty of people who simply don’t know what they’re doing out there.

OK: I’ve put my cards on the table.  What were your hits and misses?

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