Professional Ethical Decision-making for Global Challenges


On Friday March 8, Elaine Mak, Laura Henderson & Thom Snijders will bring together a diverse mix of researchers and professionals, with backgrounds in law, philosophy, governance and geosciences, to engage with some of the challenges arising in professional ethical decision-making regarding complex societal issues.

Legal Ethics

The seminar will revolve around presentations and discussions of a selection of articles published as part of a recent special issue of the journal Legal Ethics, covering topics such as the ethics of judicial decision-making affecting future generations, anthropogenic land subsidence, the lack of equality of arms faced by citizens against corporations in large-scale liability litigation, and the ethical dilemma’s surrounding the provision of life-saving medicines in Latin America. The discussions will focus on the role of a variety of professional actors, including (constitutional) judges, corporate lawyers, scientists, and policy-makers.

To set the scene for these presentations, Kim van der Kraats, professor by special appointment at Utrecht University and senior-judge at the district court Midden-Nederland, will kick off the event, offering some general reflections on the overarching theme of the special issue. Coffee and tea will be provided before the start of the seminar; drinks and snacks will be served afterwards. For more details regarding the speakers and timeline, please refer to the program overview below.

We kindly invite you to this seminar, organized in collaboration with the Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges (UGlobe).


13:30-13:45   Coffee/tea

13:45-13:50   Opening/word of welcome

13:50-14:00   General introduction by prof. Kim van der Kraats

14:00-14:30   Laura Davies & Laura Henderson, ‘Judging Without Railings: An Ethic of Responsible Judicial Decision-making for Future Generations. Referent: Willem Mingelen (PhD Candidate, Utrecht University)

14:30-15:00   Dries Hegger, Peter Driessen, Esther Stouthamer & Heleen Mees, ‘Facilitating Professional Normative Judgement Through Science-Policy interfaces: The Case of Anthropogenic Land Subsidence in the Netherlands’. Referent: Martijn van Gils (PhD Candidate, Utrecht University)

15:00-15:15   Short break

15:15-15:45   Iris van Domselaar & Ruth de Bock, ‘The Case of David vs. Goliath: On Legal Ethics and Corporate Lawyering in Large-scale Liability Cases’. Referent: Frank Peters (Partner Bureau Brandeis)

15:45-16:15   Javier Couso, ‘Overcoming a Clash of Absolutes: The Conflicting Ethical Demands Posed by Access to Medicines Litigation Confronted by Latin American Judges’. Referent: Laurien Nijenhuis (PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam)

16:30-17:30   Drinks

Start date and time
End date and time
Drift 21, Utrecht - Sweelinckzaal
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