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Why we need as much empathy for ourselves as we do for our dogs during the COVID-era and beyond Musings about self-empathy, ethical restrictions on movement, and avoiding nocebo effects

In the final session of our webinar series, we will look at ways in which the lockdown measures may have restricted our ability to be empathic to ourselves. Our speaker, Dr. Howick, the Oxford Empathy Programme, will briefly review the evidence that empathic care improves health, and how this applies to self-empathy. He will then review the barriers to (self) empathy presented by the lockdown, including especially restrictions on movement. He will argue that these are unethical, not least of which because they cause rampant ‘nocebo’ effects. Towards the end of his talk, he will address solutions for individuals and policymakers.

As always, we are welcoming attendance and input from across the academic disciplines, and others!

Guest speaker

Jeremy Howick, Director of the Oxford Empathy Programme, and Senior Researcher and Impact Fellow, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford

Chair: David Lyreskog, NEUROSEC, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities

 This webinar is the last in the series on the Ethics of Exercise During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

More about the webinar series

Current lockdown measures in the UK include limitations and restrictions on outdoor and group exercise, although, in parallel, exercise is generally encouraged for physical and mental health.

In this webinar series, we will explore ethical considerations in relation to exercise in the UK during the implementation of Covid-19 social distancing measures. Topics include (but are not limited to): Risk mitigation with regard to catching and/or spreading the virus, or putting oneself at risk of (other) injury, disease, or medical condition; Social signalling and provocation; Stigmatization; Fairness and solidarity; Responsibilization; Risk assessment; Mental and physical health impacts of outdoor activity and sedentary behaviours.

The sessions will include short presentations from guest speakers, but will be heavily focused on discussion between attendees. The sessions will later be posted online to stimulate public debate.

Participation across disciplines is encouraged and very welcome!

Please find links to the videos of all seminars below.


Session 1: 7 May 2020, 3-3.45pm
Session 2: 21 May 2020, 3-3.45pm
Session 3: 28 May 2020, 3-3.45pm
Session 4: 4 June 2020, 3-3.45pm