March 22, 2006

The Conference We Believed Could Never Happen

Politics and Bioethics is the title for a special Summer Conference of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, July 13-14 2006 at the Crowne Plaza Albany, NY, presented by the Alden March Bioethics Institute in collaboration with Nelson Rockefeller Institute of Government, Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics, Penn Center for Bioethics, Albany Law School, University of Virginia Center for Bioethics, and The American Journal of Bioethics.

Why a conference about politics and bioethics? Those on the right and the left hardly even talk anymore, right?

Political influence has an evolving role in bioethics and the emergence of new politically active bioethics institutions. Some argue that bioethics is becoming politicized. Others argue that it is coming into its own in a political world. Still others argue that a long-standing political bias in bioethics is at long last being corrected. With New York's state capitol as a backdrop, those questions will be discussed and debated with the goal of reaching some areas of general agreement, clarifying disagreements and thinking broadly about the future of bioethics in a democratic society.

The tone will be set by a keynote from Prof. Edmund Pellegrino of Georgetown University, the Inaugural John A. Balint Lectureship.

Others confirmed speakers include, among others, Nigel Cameron, Arthur Caplan, Alta Charo, Eric Cohen, Richard Doerflinger, James Fossett, Jeffrey Kahn, Glenn McGee, David Magnus, Chris Mooney, Jonathan Moreno, Alicia Ouellette, Sean Philpott, William F. May, Wesley Smith, Bonnie Steinbock, Gerald and Paul Root Wolpe, and Laurie Zoloth.

We are currently soliciting contributed papers to be presented in highly interactive sessions at the conference. Those interested should click here to read the guidelines to submit a 250-word abstract describing original work that does not substantially overlap with papers that have been published or that are simultaneously submitted to a journal or a conference with proceedings. Topics of interest include but are not limited to: the emerging role of religious and politically-affiliated bioethics centers, the difference between academic and political advocacy, the possibilities for dialog across political lines, and the effect politics is likely to have on a variety of debates in bioethics.

There was some confusion about how to submit an abstract. Please submit your abstract by email; just click here to open a properly addressed email in which you can scribble out your submission.

The authors of accepted submissions will be invited to present their work at the conference. Presentations on these papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length. Accepted papers will also be published in the conference syllabus or considered for publication in a special issue of The American Journal of Bioethics. A volume based on the most discussed papers of the conference will be published in The MIT Press' Basic Bioethics book series.

What are the general & format guidelines for abstract submission?

1) Abstracts must not exceed 250 words 2) Abstracts should contain the names, degrees and institutions of all authors 3) Abstracts should contain the contact information of at least one author (the submitting author), including email address 4) Abstracts should be submitted online to Please do not make your submission by return email, fax, phone, telegram, smoke signal or rumor. However, for additional information, contact Jamie Michelle Salm at 518.262.6082. 5) Deadline for abstract submission is April 20, 2006 6) Email notification of accepted abstracts will be sent to the submitting author by May 20, 2006. 7) The presenting author(s) of a contributed paper must register for the conference and pay the registration fee by June 1, 2006, in order to have the paper included in the conference proceedings.

You are invited

Everything you need to submit to or register for the conference is here - but if you have questions, please contact us at 518-262-6082.

On behalf of AMBI, ASBH and our co-sponsors I hope you will be able to join us for a unique conversation at this pivotal moment in bioethics. The forum comes at a time when many have said that bioethics is being reduced to little more than political interests. Instead, we hope that the Summer Meeting will bring together those who are struggling to communicate across political lines, many of whom disagree vehemently with each other, and some of whom have never participated together in any public forum.

We hope you too will join in that conversation, whether in a paper, a panel, or just across a table at lunch with someone whom you might otherwise have seen only "across the aisle."

Getting here, and enjoying it:

Albany is well serviced by plane and train. It is possible to depart on Thursday morning July 13th from most of the U.S. and arrive in time for the opening of the conference, and to depart on the Friday evening (7/14) in time to arrive in many destinations. Discounted airfare is available from US Airways, the official carrier for the conference. Special rates have been arranged with the Crowne Plaza for the evenings of the 13th, and for those who desire it, the 12th and 14th. The hotel has free shuttle service to Albany International.

The Albany Crowne Plaza is located steps from Empire State Plaza, the New York State Capitol building, the New York State Museum and the Hudson river. On the evening of the 13th, following dinner, the Balint Lecture and a dessert reception, a jazz concert will be held on the Plaza.

After the conference concludes on Friday afternoon, it is worth considering a weekend in the Capital District, whether in the Adirondacks, Berkshires, Lake George, or around Saratoga and Albany. Car rental is inexpensive, and everything is close, including amazing lake resorts. Of note, e.g., the 14th, NYC Ballet performs at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and "Coastal Disturbances" opens at Berkshire Theater.

And one other thing: readers and writers will get together for the first time ever - one of those "huh, you really look like that?" encounters, over wine Friday evening at Franklin's Tower.

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