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Professor Michael Dunn

Professor Michael Dunn


The issue of medical ethics, from thorny moral questions such as euthanasia and the morality of killing to political questions such as the fair distribution of health care resources, is rarely out of today's media. This area of ethics covers a wide range of issues, from mental health to reproductive medicine, as well as including management issues such as resource allocation, and has proven to hold enduring interest for the general public as well as the medical practitioner. This new edition explores the ethical reasoning we can use to approach medical ethics, introducing the most important 'tools' of ethical reasoning, and discussing how argument, thought experiments, and intuition can be combined in the consideration of medical ethics. Considering its practical application, Michael Dunn and Tony Hope explore how medical ethics supports health professionals through the growing use of ethics expertise in clinical settings. They also contemplate the increasingly important place of medical ethics in the wider social context, particularly in this age of globalization, not only in healthcare practice, but also policy, discussions in the media, pressure group and activism settings, and in legal judgments.

New Book - Empirical Bioethics: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives

Bioethics has long been accepted as an interdisciplinary field. The recent 'empirical turn' in bioethics is, however, creating challenges that move beyond those of simple interdisciplinary collaboration, as researchers grapple with the methodological, empirical and meta-ethical challenges of combining the normative and the empirical, as well as navigating the difficulties that can arise from attempts to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. Empirical Bioethics: Practical and Theoretical Perspectives brings together contributions from leading experts in the field which speak to these challenges, providing insight into how they can be understood and suggestions for how they might be overcome. Combining discussions of meta-ethical challenges, examples of different methodologies for integrating empirical and normative research, and reflection on the challenges of conducting and publishing such work, this book will both introduce the novice to the field and challenge the expert.

Michael Dunn

BA, MA (Cantab.), PhD, PGDipLaTHE, SFHEA

Associate Professor

  • Director of Medical Ethics and Law Education, Clinical School
  • Director of the Ethox Centre's Graduate Research Training Programme in Bioethics
  • Research Fellow, Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, University of Oxford


Mikey works on ethics in health care, social care and research. His current research interests focus predominantly on various ethical aspects of community-based and long-term care practice, policy and law - in the UK and internationally.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mikey has also been undertaking clinical ethics research exploring the rationales for i) medical triage and the allocation of critical care resources, ii) the redeployment of health care professionals to high-risk clinical settings, and iii) modifications made to standard decision-making and consent procedures in hospitals.

In his research, Mikey draws upon - and seeks to integrate - philosophical, social scientific and legal methods of analysis. Connected to this approach, he also has a strong interest in examining questions about:

  • the nature of bioethics
  • the rationale for empirical bioethics research
  • novel methodological strategies for answering bioethical research questions.

Mikey has authored more than 80 peer reviewed academic journal articles and book chapters. He has also written/edited 5 books. His most recent books are:

Two other edited books are currently under contract. The first examines the law, practice and value bases of advance directives in Asia, and the second provides a comparative analysis of values and participation in mental capacity law internationally.

His research and practice development activities have been funded through grants awarded by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Ethox Foundation, the Lien Foundation, the Brocher Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Burdett Trust, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Nuffield Oxford Hospitals Fund, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Japanese Global Centres of Excellence Programme and the National University of Singapore.


Mikey plays a major role in Ethox's teaching activities. As Director of Undergraduate Medical Ethics and Law Education, he is responsible for leading and managing the delivery of the medical ethics and law curriculum to all clinical and graduate entry medical students within the University of Oxford’s Medical School. As Director of the Ethox Centre Graduate Research Training Programme, he is working to foster the development of bioethics teaching and research skills amongst Ethox's cohort of DPhil students and junior post-doctoral researchers.

Mikey has completed the University of Oxford's Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. He now mentors junior colleagues undertaking this professional qualification and was appointed as a Senior Fellow of the UK's Higher Education Academy in 2015.

Mikey has supervised 7 doctoral students at the University of Oxford: Kyle Edwards, Leah Rand, Gulamabbas Lakha, Lovro SavicMarisha Wickremsinhe, Kumeri Bandara and Urania Chiu.

In 2018, he was one of 15 academics shortlisted in the "Outstanding Graduate Supervisor" category in Oxford University's Annual Teaching Awards.

Mikey currently has a full quota of DPhil students and so is not able to consider requests to supervise additional graduate students at this time.

Other Academic Activities

Mikey sits on a number of advisory committees for research studies and practice development activities, and has acted as a consultant for ethics projects established by the Health Foundation, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS.

He also currently holds, or has recently held, the following appointments:


Mikey has worked at the Ethox Centre since 2009. He was awarded his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of Cambridge. His doctoral research focused on the law, ethics and practice of decision-making in residential care work for adults with profound and multiple intellectual disabilities.

He has previously held visiting teaching and research positions at the National University of Singapore, the University of Tokyo, Hong Kong University, the Hastings Center in New York, the VU University Amsterdam, the University of Oslo, the University of Bradford, and at Green Templeton College, Oxford.


Top Tips for Writing Academic Papers in (Empirical) Bioethics. Seminar for the Global Health Bioethics Network Early Career Researcher Webinar Series. 18th June 2021.

Deflating Autonomy in the Legal Regulation of Consent to Medical Treatment in England. Research Seminar, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, Faculty of Law, Hong Kong University, 25th September 2019.

Research Ethics Regulation. The MI Interview, The Mason Institute, Faculty of Law, University of Edinburgh, 21st January 2016.

Teaching and Learning Using Difficult Clinical Cases: An ethics 'toolbox' for clinicians and educators. CUHK Centre for Bioethics First Annual Summer Workshop, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 16th July 2014.