Current research


The Ethics of Powerlessness is a research project based in the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex. The project started in July 2015 and will run for three years. Our aim is to clarify the ethical challenges that arise from human experiences of powerlessness, especially in contexts of palliative and end-of-life care.


Queries about the work of the EoP should be directed to Prof. Béatrice Han-PileDr. Daniel Watts or Dr. David Batho.

Messages concerning administrative and logistic matters should be emailed to: powerlessness[at]




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EoP delivers CPD Training on ‘Moral Distress’

Between April -June 2019, EoP delivered CDP training modules on ‘Moral Distress’ to hospices across the East of England (St Helena, Colchester; St Francis, Romford; St Lukes, Basildon; Arthur Rank, Cambridge). These modules have been highly rated by staff across a wide range of roles within the hospice setting. For more details, or if you would like to register your interest, see:


GREEN PAPER – What is Moral Distress? Experiences and Responses

The term ‘moral distress’ entered nursing literature in 1984 when Andrew Jameton first described the phenomenon. According to Jameton, moral distress occurs ‘when one knows the right thing to do, but institutional constraints make it nearly impossible to pursue the right course of action’ (Jameton, 1984: p.6). As we shall see, this brief statement has come in for criticism, led to some confusion, and spurred subsequent attempts at refinement. Our aim in this Green Paper is to present a critical review of discussions of moral distress, propose a phenomenologically grounded analysis of the phenomenon, and sketch an array of possible ways of responding to experiences of moral distress as described.