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Portrait of Isra Black


  • Healthcare law

  • Normative jurisprudence

  • Moral philosophy



University College London, Faculty of Law

Isra Black is a Lecturer in Health Law and Research Impact and Engagement Lead in the Faculty of Laws, UCL. Isra’s expertise lies at the intersection of health law and philosophy. The subjects of his work include the law of medical treatment (particularly as it concerns adolescents), mental capacity law, end of life decision-making (eg refusals of treatment and assisted death), health and human rights law, as well as the theorisation of health law as an area of legal practice and scholarly enquiry. Isra is an Associate Member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University. Isra is Commentaries Editor of Medical Law International (2022-), a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College (2022-), and a member of the Society of Legal Scholars Research Grants Committee (2023-).

My primary area of research activity is health law. Methodologically-speaking, most of my work falls within normative jurisprudence. I employ the tools of philosophy—normative and applied ethics, decision and value theory—to explain law and legal doctrines, and to evaluate the same. Both explanatory and evaluative aspects of my work involve sensitivity to doctrine and institutional context. When we reconstruct health law or argue about how it ought to be, I believe that we should not see it merely as a branch of medical ethics or moral or political philosophy. Rather, we must recognise the distinctive nature of legal norms as well as the role non-legal institutions may have in shaping and implementing the law. Insofar as I attend to philosophy in law, I see my work as interdisciplinary endeavour.

Edited books

L Forsberg, I Black, A Skelton, J Herring (eds), Consenting children: autonomy, well-being, responsibility (Proceedings of the British Academy) (under contract).

Journal articles

Isra Black, Lisa Forsberg, Anthony Skelton, ‘Transformative experience and capacity to refuse of life prolonging treatment’ (2023) 139 (Oct) Law Quarterly Review 654-680

A Skelton, L Forsberg, I Black, ‘Overriding adolescent refusals of treatment’, (2021) Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.

I Black, ‘Novel beings and assisted nonexistence’ (2021) CQHE

I Black, ‘Refusing Life Prolonging Medical Treatment and the ECHR’ (2018) 38(2) OJLS 299 (free link).

I Black and Á Helgason, ‘Using motivational interviewing to facilitate death talk in end-of-life care: an ethical analysis’ (2018) 17 BMC Palliative Care 51 (open access).

RJ Jox, I Black, G Domenico Borasio, and J Anneser, ‘Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking: is medical support ethically justified?’ 15(1) BMC Med 186 (open access).

I Black and L Forsberg, ‘Would it be ethical to use motivational interviewing to increase family consent to deceased solid organ donation?’ (2014) 40(1) Journal of Medical Ethics 63-68. JME. Philpapers postprint.

P Lewis and I Black, ‘Adherence to the Request Criterion in Jurisdictions where Assisted Dying is Lawful? A Review of the Criteria and Evidence in the Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and Switzerland’ (2013) 41(4) Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 885-898. Philpapers postprint.

P Lewis and I Black, ‘Reporting and scrutiny of reported cases in four jurisdictions where assisted dying is lawful: a review of the evidence in the Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and Switzerland’ (2013) 13(4) Medical Law International 221-239. Philpapers postprint.

Contributions to edited books

I Black, ‘A pro tanto moral case for assisted death’ forthcoming in Sue Westwood (ed), Death Rights: Regulating the End of Life (Routledge 2021) (in press).

I Black, ‘Patients, physicians, and law at the end of life in England and Wales’ in Ruth E Board, Michael I Bennett, Penney Lewis, John Wagstaff, Peter Selby (eds), Choices in End of Life Care for Cancer Patients (EBN Health 2020) (accepted manuscript). Accepted manuscript.

I Black and L Forsberg, ‘Ethical Challenges in the Applications of Motivational Interviewing in HIV Care’ in Antoine Douaihy and K Rivet Amico (eds), Motivational Interviewing in HIV Care (OUP 2020). Accepted manuscript.

Case commentary

I Black, ‘Existential Suffering and The Extent of the Right to Physician Assisted Suicide in Switzerland: Gross v Switzerland’ (2014) 22(1) Medical Law Review 109-118.

I Black, ‘A postscript to Gross v Switzerland’ (2014) 22(4) Medical Law Review 656.

I Black, ‘Suicide assistance for mentally disordered individuals in Switzerland and the State’s positive obligation to facilitate dignified suicide: Haas c Suisse’ (2012) 20(1) Medical Law Review 157-166. Philpapers postprint.

Policy work

L Forsberg, I Black, T Douglas, and J Pugh, ‘Compulsory vaccination for Covid-19 and human rights law’, Written evidence to the UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights (2020). Open access.

P Lewis and I Black, ‘The effectiveness of legal safeguards in jurisdictions that allow assisted dying’, Briefing Paper for the Commission on Assisted Dying (2012). Open access.

Faculty Research Domains

Rotman Institute faculty members are listed below by shared research areas. Visit individual member profiles to learn more.