Dr. Andreas Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Political Theory at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Groningen.

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been very popular recently. In this talk, I focus on two different kinds of ethical challenges for MBIs.

The first first challenge comes in the form of ‘dilemma. When applied in population-level contexts, such as schools or business, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) find themselves in a crossfire between two different kinds of criticisms. On one side, some worry that MBIs’ normative commitments might be “too thick,” worrying that MBIs might come with a particular conception of the good, and significant ethical and religious commitments. On the other side, some worry that contemporary, medicalised MBIs are ethically “too thin”, as they shed too many of their original Buddhist ethical and soteriological goals.

Second, a different, “left-wing” objection holds that MBIs, particularly in businesses, are used to extract more productivity from already overworked and stressed employees. So, rather than tackling the root causes of stress and lower wellbeing, MBIs provide at best symptomatic relief or, worse, might be used to intensify unhealthy work relationships.

In my talk, I defend MBIs against both these challenges.