Events Overview

Colloquium on Ethics: Riana Betzler and David Fajardo Chica (online)
22 October 2020 – 17:00-18:15

Riana Betzler (WUSTL): Ethics as a Practice in Medical Education
David Fajardo Chica (UNAM): Pain, suffering and death: A proposal for philosophy in palliative care education

Place: Online Videoconference
Registration: via eventbrite (by 14 00 on the 22nd October)

Riana Betzler is McDonnell Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology in the Department of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research spans the philosophy of biology, psychology and medicine including the ethics of empathy.

David Fajardo Chica is a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy based in the Faculty of Medicine at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His research concerns pain and suffering in palliative care.

Colloquium on Phenomenology: Anthony Vincent Fernandez and Samantha Gallivan (online)
12 November 2020 – 17:00-18:15

Anthony Vincent Fernandez (KSU): Teaching Phenomenology in Clinical Practice: A Conceptual Approach
Samantha Gallivan (Imperial): Using Phenomenologically Informed Qualitative Methods to Explore Surgical Practice

Place: Online Videoconference
Registration: via eventbrite (by 14 00 on the 22th November)

Anthony Vincent Fernandez is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Kent State University. His current research concerns the challenges of applying phenomenology to domains for which it was not intended such as psychology, medicine, race and gender.

Samantha Gallivan is an orthopaedic surgeon with St George’s Hospital and Deputy Academic Lead for Collaborative Projects at Imperial College London. Her research focuses on understanding tacit and embodied knowing in the expert practice of surgeons, stone carvers and sculptors.

Colloquium on Psychiatry: Benjamin Wilck, Ivan Nenchev and Tania Gergel (online)
26 November 2020 – 17:00-18:15

Benjamin Wilck (Humboldt) and Ivan Nenchev (Charité): The Value of Philosophy of Language for Psychiatric Diagnostics
Tania Gergel (KCL): Teaching philosophy to psychiatrists: a paradigm case of interdisciplinary education?

Place: Online Videoconference
Registration: via eventbrite (by 14 00 on the 26th November)

Ivan Nenchev is Resident Physician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and Benjamin Wilck is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

Tania Gergel is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Psychological Medicine at King’s College London. Her research focuses on applying conceptual analysis to mental health, psychiatry and law.

Past Events

Can Clinical Knowledge Be a Model for Human and Social Sciences?
11 February 2020 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Philippe Lacour, Universidade de Brasilia and Collège International de Philosophie

B4 (North Wing), Strand Campus

If you do not have a KCL ID, please register (free) at this Link.

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Description:

My goal in this presentation is to make sense of the rising clinical trend in Social and Human Sciences, which one could reassess as the emergence of Clinical Reason. Both the traditional difficulty to define the clinical method, and its growing application to Human and Social Sciences raise quite complex questions. However, despite the increasing development of the literature on the subject, the history, scope, actors, institutions, and conceptual aspects of clinical knowledge remain virtually unexplored. In fact, the clinical method challenges traditional conception of epistemology and theoretical reason because of its ambition of a knowledge aiming at a singularity (which is not merely the individual), positively (and not as the negative of a structure), directly (and not after a detour through a universal category) and with its content (not in its mere form). When implied in Social and Human Sciences, clinical approaches offer new opportunities, but also come across problems, such as the role of intuition, interpretation or subjectivity. In this presentation, my goal is precisely to provide an appropriate epistemological concept able to fully tackle the particularities of clinical knowledge, in its specific operations, methods and limits. I will insist on the interpretive and casuistic nature of clinical knowledge, which should provide the basis for future endeavours in Social and Human Sciences.
 

Philosophy of Medicine Reading Group
6 February 2020 – 16:00-17:00

Reading:

  • Peter H. Schwartz, Reframing the Disease Debate and Defending the Biostatistical Theory, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Volume 39, Issue 6, December 2014, Pages 572–589, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmp/jhu039

Convener: Harriet Fagerberg

Location: Room 508, Philosophy Building

 
Abstract:
 
Similarly to other accounts of disease, Christopher Boorse’s Biostatistical Theory (BST) is generally presented and considered as conceptual analysis, that is, as making claims about the meaning of currently used concepts. But conceptual analysis has been convincingly critiqued as relying on problematic assumptions about the existence, meaning, and use of concepts. Because of these problems, accounts of disease and health should be evaluated not as claims about current meaning, I argue, but instead as proposals about how to define and use these terms in the future, a methodology suggested by Quine and Carnap. I begin this article by describing problems with conceptual analysis and advantages of “philosophical explication,” my favored approach. I then describe two attacks on the BST that also question the entire project of defining “disease.” Finally, I defend the BST as a philosophical explication by showing how it could define useful terms for medical science and ethics.
 

Philosophy of Medicine Reading Group
30 January 2020 – 16:00-17:00

Reading:

  • Peter H. Schwartz, Progress in Defining Disease: Improved Approaches and Increased Impact, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Volume 42, Issue 4, August 2017, Pages 485–502, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmp/jhx012

Convener: Harriet Fagerberg

Location: Room 508
 

Abstract:
 
In a series of recent papers, I have made three arguments about how to define “disease” and evaluate and apply possible definitions.First, I have argued that definitions should not be seen as traditional conceptual analyses, but instead as proposals about how to define and use the term “disease” in the future. Second,I have pointed out and attempted to address a challenge for dysfunction-requiring accounts of disease that I call the “line-drawing”problem: distinguishing between low-normal functioning and dysfunctioning. Finally, I have used a dysfunction-requiring approach to argue that some extremely prevalent conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and ductal carcinoma insitu, are not diseases, but instead are risk factors. Four of the papers in this issue directly engage my previous work. In this commentary,I applaud the advances these authors make, address points of disagreement, and make suggestions about where the discussion should go next.
 

Mental Health Without Wellbeing
28 January 2020 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Dr Anna Alexandrova, University of Cambridge (paper co-authored with Sam Wren-Lewis)

Greenwood Classroom, Greenwood Theatre Building, Guy’s Campus

If you do not have a KCL ID, please register (free) at this Link.

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Description:

What is it to be mentally healthy? In the ongoing movement to promote mental health, to reduce stigma and to establish parity between mental and physical health, there is a clear enthusiasm about this concept and a recognition of its value in human life. However, it is often unclear what mental health means in all these efforts and whether there is a single concept underlying them. Sometimes the initiatives for the sake of mental health are aimed just at reducing mental illness, thus implicitly identifying mental health with the absence of diagnosable psychiatric disease. More ambitiously, there are high-profile proposals to adopt a positive definition, identifying mental health with psychic or even overall wellbeing. We argue against both: a definition of mental health as mere absence of mental illness is too thin, too undemanding, and too closely linked to psychiatric value judgments, while the definition in terms of wellbeing is too demanding and potentially oppressive. As a compromise we sketch out a middle position. On this view mental health is a primary good, that is the psychological preconditions of pursuing any conception of the good life, including wellbeing, without being identical to wellbeing.
 

Philosophy of Medicine Reading Group
23 January 2020 – 16:00-17:00

Reading:

  • John Matthewson, Paul E. Griffiths, Biological Criteria of Disease: Four Ways of Going Wrong, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Volume 42, Issue 4, August 2017, Pages 447–466, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmp/jhx004

Convener: Harriet Fagerberg

Location: Room 508

 

Abstract:

We defend a view of the distinction between the normal and the pathological according to which that distinction has an objective, biological component. We accept that there is a normative component to the concept of disease, especially as applied to human beings. Nevertheless, an organism cannot be in a pathological state unless something has gone wrong for that organism from a purely biological point of view. Biology, we argue, recognises two sources of biological normativity, which jointly generate four “ways of going wrong” from a biological perspective. These findings show why previous attempts to provide objective criteria for pathology have fallen short: Biological science recognizes a broader range of ways in which living things can do better or worse than has previously been recognized in the philosophy of medicine.
 

Induction and Necessary Connections in Medical Research
21 January 2020 – 17:30-19:00

Lecture: Marius Backmann, London School of Economics

Bush House (S) 2.02, Strand Campus

If you do not have a KCL ID, please register (free) at this Link.

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Audio Recording

 
Description:

Some necessitarians have claimed that they could justify induction by
introducing necessary connections. By analysing the reasoning in randomised
clinical trials (RCTs), I argue that this view does not accurately represent
scientific practice.

The basic model of necessitarian solutions to the problem of induction is as
follows: First we infer from the fact that all Fs have so far been Gs via an
inference to the best explanation (IBE) that there is a necessary connection
between F-ness and G-ness. We then deductively infer from this necessary
connection that all Fs are Gs.

Nancy Cartwright and Eileen Munro offer an idealised reconstruction of
randomized clinical trials broadly along these lines. First, we infer from
evidence that a treatment has a ‘stable capacity’, i.e. a modal dispositional
property, to produce an outcome. Second, we deductively infer the efficacy of
the treatment outside the test environment from the existence of this stable
capacity. Cartwright and Munro argue that RCTs alone are no basis to support
these sorts of inferences, and hence do not deserve the status of a gold standard
for medical research.

Against this, I argue we should not try to give a deductive reconstruction of
RCTs. We ampliatively infer the causal relevance of the treatment in the sample
from the fact that the desired outcome is more prevalent in the test group than
in the control group. The further inference that the treatment will be causally
relevant in the population will also always be ampliative, because we cannot
possibly have the necessary information to make it deductive.
Moreover, the necessitarian analysis of inductive practice is inapplicable
where there are no modal properties that could be inferred to, as is, e.g., the case
in meta-studies.
 

On Validators for Psychiatric Categories
5 December 2019 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Miriam Solomon, Temple University (USA)

Council Room, King’s College London, Strand

If you do not have a KCL ID, please register (free) at this Link.

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Audio Recording

 
Description:

The concept of a validator for a psychiatric category developed in the second half of the twentieth century and is still in use. Surprisingly, the term “validator” has never been explicitly defined in the psychiatric literature. Moreover, although lists of different kinds of validators have often been stated, there has been no explicit discussion in the literature about how different kinds of validator evidence should be aggregated in a decision about how to create, revise, or remove a psychiatric category. The goal of this paper is to trace the development of the concept of a psychiatric validator, showing how our understanding has changed over time. With this in mind, I evaluate possible recommendations for aggregating validator evidence.
 

Offers, requests and certainties (in the prevention and treatment of cancer, for example)
28 November 2019 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Stephen John, University of Cambridge

Bush House (S) 2.02, Strand Campus

If you do not have a KCL ID, please register (free) at this Link.

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Description:

Doctors are sometimes permitted to give patients early detection tests which are not judged safe and effective enough to be used in screening programmes. Pharmaceutical companies are sometimes permitted to give patients drugs which are not yet approved by regulators. On the face of it, these cases seem examples of a more general phenomenon explored in recent philosophy of science under the heading of “inductive risk”, where appropriate standards of certainty are fixed by non-epistemic aspects of our situation. However, standard discussions of inductive risk focus on the consequences of different epistemic errors. This doesn’t look like a helpful way of thinking through our cases. This paper suggests an alternative: that there is a difference between the ethics of responding to requests and the ethics of making an offer. In the former case, considerations of autonomy are key; in the latter, considerations of non-maleficence. In turn,these deontic differences have important epistemic implications. This paper develops these ideas, noting their relevance to a range of practices around the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.
 

Medicalisation of Female Sexual Desire
14 November 2019 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Jacob Stegenga, University of Cambridge

Large Committee Room, Hodgkin Building, Guy’s Campus, King’s College London

If you do not have a KCL ID, please register (free) at this Link.

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Description:

Medicalisation is a social phenomenon in which conditions that were once under legal, religious, personal or other jurisdictions are brought into the domain of medical authority. Low sexual desire in females has been medicalised, pathologised as a disease, and intervened upon with a range of pharmaceuticals. There are two polarised positions on the medicalisation of low female sexual desire: I call these the mainstream view and the critical view. I assess the central arguments for both positions. Dividing the two positions are opposing models of the aetiology of low female sexual desire. I conclude by suggesting that the balance of arguments supports a modest defence of the critical view regarding the medicalisation of low female sexual desire.
 

2019 Annual Sowerby Lecture
7 November 2019 – 18:30-20:00

Are you your Brain?  Neuroscience and Neuromania

Lecture: Professor Raymond Tallis FMedSci FRCP FRSA

Theatre 2, New Hunt’s House, KCL Guy’s Campus

Introduced by Lord Turnberg FRCP FMedSci, past president of the Royal College of Physicians.

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Video Recording

 

About the Speaker:

Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic, and a retired physician and clinical neuroscientist. He ran a large clinical service in Hope Hospital Salford and an academic department in the University of Manchester. His research focussed on epilepsy, stroke, and neurological rehabilitation.

He trained in medicine at Oxford University and at St Thomas’s in London before going on to become Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician. He was an editor and major contributor to two key textbooks in the field, The Clinical Neurology of Old Age and Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology and author of over 200 original scientific articles, mainly in clinical neuroscience, including papers in Nature Medicine, Brain, Lancet. In 2000, he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in recognition of his contribution to medical research. Among many prizes, he was awarded the Lord Cohen Gold Medal for Research into Ageing. He played a key part in developing guidelines for the care of stroke patients in the UK. From 2011-14 he was Chair, Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD). He has been a member of the Council of Royal College of Physicians since June 2016. He is a member of the criteria-setting group for the UK Research Excellence Framework 2021 in philosophy.

He has published fiction, poetry, and 25 books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary and cultural criticism. Aping Mankind (2010) was reissued in 2016 as a Routledge Classic. Of Time and Lamentation. Reflections on Transience (2017)– is an inquiry into the nature of time. NHS SOS (2012), co-edited with Jacky Davis, examined the destructive impact of Tory policies on the NHS. Logos. An Essay on the Mystery of the Sense-Making Animal was published in Spring 2018. A series of 8 seminars on Humanism given in the philosophy department of Charles University Prague, is the basis of his next book, due out in autumn 2019, Seeing Ourselves. Reclaiming Humanity from God and Science . His next volume of verse – Sunburst – is also due out in 2019.

In 2009, the Economist Intelligent Life Magazine describe him as one of the world’s leading polymaths. He has been a member of the Council of Royal College of Physicians since June 2016. He has 4 honorary degrees: DLitt (Hull, 1997) and Litt.D. (Manchester, 2001) for contributions to the humanities; and DSc (St George’s Hospital Medical School, 2015; University of East Anglia, 2017) for contributions to research in medicine.
 

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