Scientific Coordinators: Agar Brugiavini, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice & Venice International University (VIU); Giovanni Leonetti, Tor Vergata University of Rome; Fabrizio Turoldo, Ca' Foscari University of Venice
The series of webinars tackles the theme of pandemics and, more generally, that of disasters and extraordinary situations from three points of view: that of ethics, law and psychoanalysis.
It will discuss how culture processes epidemic events, how infectious calamities are perceived by society and how societies react to epidemics.
Extreme situations often force rationing medical resources, so that ethics and law are called upon to reflect on issues of justice.
This problem has recently arisen, sometimes dramatically, during the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been cases in which pulmonary ventilators were not sufficient for everyone and doctors were sometimes forced to make a patient selection. The ethics committees of various countries have produced numerous documents in which selection criteria have been proposed. Similarly, scientific societies have proposed guidelines for doctors. Some of these criteria have raised wide debates and polemics in public opinion. One of the most discussed, for example, was the age criterion.
The Webinars will explore the debate on these topics, with the help of qualified speakers, who have been protagonists of the intellectual debate on these issues.
- Antonio Da Re, full professor of moral philosophy and bioethics at the University of Padua, member of the Italian National Committee for Bioethics;
- Emilio Mordini, research fellow of the Health and Risk Communication Centre of the University of Haifa (Israel), Psychoanalyst. He was scientific secretary of the CNR Bioethics Commission, General Secretary of the European Association of Medical Ethics Centres (EACME);
- Andrea Nicolussi, full professor of private law and coordinator of the Doctoral School "Person and legal systems" at the Catholic University of Milan, member of the Italian National Committee for Bioethics;
- Mario Picozzi, physician, professor of forensic medicine and Director of the Research Centre in Clinical Ethics at the University of Insubria (Varese);
- Stefano Semplici, full professor of Social Ethics at Rome Tor Vergata, Past Chair of the Committee for Bioethics of the Italian Society of Paediatrics. He was the Chair of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO from 2011 to 2015;
- Paolo Severgnini, professor of anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, ASST dei Settelaghi, Macchi Foundation; Biotechnology and Life Sciences Department, University of Insubria (Varese).
- Collective imaginary on epidemics | Emilio Mordini
Friday, 19 March 2021, 3 pm (CET)
Confronted with crises, social groups and communities tend to show regressive psychological phenomena, which are defences against situations perceived as dangerous and threatening. They become evident in some dysfunctional behaviors (e.g. vaccine hesitancy), in urban legends, in successful narratives and can become prevalent in health communication, notably when emotional components arise, as it can happen with online communication. We call “collective symbolic coping” the sensemaking processes by which social groups interpret new or unexpected events, like an infectious outbreak. This is accomplished via the communication that arises around the event, through conversations between individuals, mass media and the Internet. In these processes, representations of the event are constructed and diffused, often appealing to collective patterns of images and thought.
- The Relationship Between Doctors’ Responsibilities and Guidelines in Extraordinary Situations. Ethical and Legal Issues | Antonio Da Re – Andrea Nicolussi
Friday, 9 April 2021, 3 pm (CET)
The current pandemic has arrived unexpectedly and has quickly reached very high peaks in spread. The situation was tragic in many respects. In some particularly affected areas, patients who needed treatment in intensive care were superior to available places and there were no clear guidelines indicating uniform criteria for patient selection. At the same time, various recommendations were proposed, which could lead to confusion; among them, the clinical ethics recommendations developed by the Italian Society of Anaesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) have ignited a heated debate and encouraged the publication of similar documents in many other countries. This webinar deals with the most relevant ones, although the main focus is put on the Italian document, since it can be considered the guideline model, imitated in other recommendations, which provides for a limit on access to intensive care based on the a priori age criterion. Such a criterion raises issues not only about its ethical legitimacy, but also about the competence of a scientific society in providing rules that may seriously breach fundamental rights.
- To Look People in the Eye: Between Discretion and Arbitrariness. Clinical Ethics at the Test of Pandemics | Mario Picozzi – Paolo Severgnini
Friday, 23 April 2021, 3 pm (CET)
The Coronavirus pandemic has deeply marked all ordinary healthcare activities and has dictated matters usually faced by the medicine of disasters. The most critical and dramatic dilemma has been the triage and the urge to select patients for Intensive Care Unit, since there was no place for all at the same time. The need to decide, in a very short time, has made this decision even more complex. Data of the Italian situation (especially in Lombardia) reveal it clearly. Worldwide, there have been many different views on triage, sometimes with very peculiar emphasis. During the webinar, Prof. Picozzi and Prof. Severgnini will illustrate the contributions of the Unites States compared to the European ones, stressing several shared elements, such as clinical criteria, notwithstanding the differences. There is, in fact, a huge gap between the US view and the European one in the appointment of the final decision maker in triage. The speakers propose the criterion of proportionality as a guide line for this kind of decisions, since it allows to integrate collective public health objectives with the principle of ensuring protection of the individual patient. The potential role of ethics consultation in this pandemic scenario is also envisaged.
Registration open | Deadline: Thursday, 22 April 2021
- The Philosophical Debate on the Age Criterion for the Selection of Patients | Stefano Semplici
Friday, 14 May 2021, 3 pm (CET)
Covid-19 has highlighted, from a dual point of view, the vulnerability of the elderly. It was immediately clear that, for them, the risk of serious consequences and death was much greater. Furthermore, when ventilators were not enough for all those in need, the different documents produced by committees and scientific societies in the Western world could not avoid taking a position on the age criterion for the selection of patients. In this debate, two parties were opposed: those who claim that the achievement of the greatest good for the greatest number implies the recognition of the age criterion as an ethical, objective and cost-effective one for the allocation of resources, and those who dispute it, with strong arguments, based precisely on equity and rights and for which age-based rationing is just an example of discrimination against older people, an example of ageism. How to interpret this seemingly unyielding contrast?
Registration open | Deadline: Thursday, 13 May 2021
Who can participate?
Students (graduates, undergraduates, PhDs), professors, VIU Community members, and the general public.
Registration via VIU website is required (see box in this page).
For further information: firstname.lastname@example.org