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Recorded Webinar “On Pandemics, Vaccines, Age, and Global Justice: A Conversation with Henry Richardson and Nancy Jecker”

Watch the entire recorded webinar here:

The Kennedy Institute of Ethics (KIE) hosted a virtual conversation about COVID-19 vaccine distribution priorities on Friday, October 9th, 2020 12-1:30pm EST.

Georgetown University KIE Senior Research Scholar and Professor of Philosophy Henry S. Richardson, and Nancy S. Jecker, Professor of Bioethics & Humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine, presented different approaches to the just distribution of scarce resources such as allocating vaccines across countries in a global health emergency. KIE Acting Director Dr. Daniel P. Sulmasy moderated the conversation.

Henry Richardson, Ezekiel Emanuel and other colleagues recently proposed a “Fair Priority Model” that offers an ethical framework to guide and undergird the work, especially during the initial period when vaccines are in limited supply. Jecker and Richardson will share comparative perspectives on how an ethical framework informs global vaccine allocation, attending especially to the role that age and “life-years” should play in thinking about global justice. Register for the webinar HERE.

About the Speakers

Henry S. Richardson, JD, MPP, PhD, is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. His books include Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the End of Policy (Oxford, 2002); Moral Entanglements: The Ancillary- Care Obligations of Medical Researchers (Oxford, 2012); and Articulating the Moral Community: Toward a Constructive Ethical Pragmatism (Oxford, 2018).

Prof. Richardson has experience with international collaboration has helped him grasp the incredible diversity of the values and views that people actually hold. As a member and officer of a UNESCO Commission (the World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology [COMEST], 2010-13), president of the Human Development and Capability Association (2014-16), and as one of the two chief authors (out of 14) of the framing normative chapter of the report of the International Panel on Social Progress (Rethinking Society for the 21st Century, Cambridge 2018), he has worked to build principled consensus among diverse groups of scholars.


Prof. Richardson was the editor of Ethics (2008-18). He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Free University of Berlin (thanks to the Humboldt Foundation), and Princeton’s University Center for Human Values. During 2019-20, as a Guggenheim Fellow, he was at work on a new book project on the division of moral labor until the pandemic hit, when his attention was turned to the fair international allocation of any eventual COVID-19 vaccine.

Nancy S. Jecker, Ph.D. is Professor of bioethics and philosophy at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She holds Visiting Professorships at the University of Johannesburg Department of Philosophy and the Chinese University of Honk Kong Centre for Bioethics.

Dr. Jecker is a three-time Rockefeller Foundation awardee, two-time National Endowment for the Humanities awardee, Brocher Foundation Visiting Researcher, and two-time Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science International Fellow. Dr. Jecker was elected to the board of directors for the International Association of Bioethics (2019-2021) and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (2017-2019).

Dr. Jecker’s research explores individual and societal aging, with attention to justice, human dignity, medical futility, and global perspectives. She has published over 200 articles and 4 books. Her most recent book, Ending Midlife Bias: New Values for Old Age (Oxford University Press, 2020), coins the term midlife bias to refer to the privileging of midlife values across the lifespan. During later life, as people face heightened risk of disease and disability, Dr. Jecker proposes that the value of keeping dignity intact takes center stage, rather than the midlife-related value of autonomy.