Sean Sinclair

Sean Sinclair

Teaching Fellow and Consultant in Applied Ethics

Summary: My research focus is the ethics of healthcare resource allocation, and the intersection of those issues with wider issues of normative ethics.


The "attraction" of healthcare resource allocation, if I may put it like that, is that these are life and death decisions. There's no other issue where government decisions have such serious immediate consequences. What makes it even more interesting is that in the UK, the underlying assumptions of existing policy are distinctly utilitarian in character. The analysis and reports that policy-makers depend on are produced by health economists, who are utility enthusiasts. But it's questionable whether that perspective takes account of all the ethical considerations that matter.

I want to defend with an account which captures all the "messy" considerations that guide ordinary moral thinking, whilst also having some of the rigour of moral theories.

My background it that I worked for many years in marketing. For the last few years I have run my own marketing consultancy business. This partly involved market research interviews with healthcare commissioners. This alerted me to the major ethical issues involved in this area of policy.

My original first degree was in English Literature. But 19 years later, I kicked off my philosophical career with a part-time BA in Philosophy at Birkbeck in London. Birkbeck is part of the University of London, but it offers part time degrees for older students. In most subjects it was rated 5 or 5* in the last RAE, which makes it a world class research institution. I received a Congratulatory First, as well as the Cyril Joad Prize for high performance.

I followed this with an MSc in philosophical ethics at Edinburgh, and then a PhD here in the IDEA Centre, focused on the ethics of healthcare allocation. .

I'm interested in the ethics of health policy issues and of other policy issues. I'm also interested in analysing the dialectics of public debates about policy issues, and in improving the quality of public debate. This includes improving the quality of public input to consultations on policy questions. I am interested in supervising PhD students in any of these areas.

You can see some of my papers by following this link.

My most recent paper, 'Should we fund Prep?', can be downloaded here.