2018 Plunkett Lecture

Thursday 22 March 2018
St Vincent’s Clinic, Darlinghurst NSW

Should we take away Hippocrates' licence? Professionalism, conscience and tolerance in a good society

Professor Daniel Sulmasy MD PhD MACP
Professor of Biomedical Ethics
Georgetown University, Washington DC

Is it true that a doctor’s conscience has little place in the delivery of modern medical care? It has recently been argued that, if a doctor is not prepared to offer a service which is both legally permitted and wanted by a patient, then he or she should find another profession. This raises the following question: How should we assess arguments against a doctor’s right to refuse to provide a test or treatment based on a conscientious objection to the use of the desired intervention? In this lecture Daniel Sulmasy advanced an argument about the proper scope and limits of conscientious objection in healthcare.

View the recording of the 2018 Plunkett lecture

Listen via ABC's Big Ideas website

Past lectures

Lectures from more recent years, together with invited speakers, are listed below. Recorded lectures can be accessed via the topic link.

Year Lecturer Topic
Year Year YearYear 2017 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerMost Reverend Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney TopicTopic TopicTopicDrive-thru healthcare: is there more to the healing relationship than supply and demand?
YearYear YearYear 2016 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerMr Mark Tedeschi AM QC,NSW Senior Crown Prosecutor and author of Murder at Myall Creek TopicTopic TopicTopicJohn Hubert Plunkett: The Martin Luther King of colonial Australia and prosecutor of the Myall Creek massacre trials
YearYear YearYear 2015 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerAssociate Professor Justin Oakley, Monash University TopicTopic TopicTopicWhat should surgical patients be told? The value and limits of medical transparency.
YearYear YearYear 2014 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerProfessor Wendy Rogers, Macquarie University TopicTopic TopicTopicOver diagnosis: when too much medicine is bad for your health!
YearYear YearYear 2013 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerDr Steve Matthews, ACU TopicTopic TopicTopicMusical memories and the way we were: musical therapy in progressive cognitive impairment.
YearYear YearYear 2012 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerDr Andrew McGee, Queensland University of Technology TopicTopic TopicTopicMy brain, my mind, my body: implications for stem cell research, end of life and organ donation.
YearYear YearYear 2011 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerDr Paul Biegler, Monash University TopicTopic TopicTopicThe ethical treatment of depression: shortcomings in contemporary practice.
YearYear YearYear 2010 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerDr John Forge, University of Sydney TopicTopic TopicTopicThe responsible scientist: ethical challenges of research and practice.
YearYear YearYear 2009 LecturerLecturer LecturerLecturerProf Greg Craven, ACU and Mr Edward Santow, University of Sydney TopicTopic TopicTopicHuman rights laws: a benefit to patients, participants in research, residents in nursing homes?


Have a question?


We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat
Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs