Events Overview

Past Events

Layperson's Guide to Epidemiological Modelling
6 April 2020 – 12:00-12:00

Online presentations by Prof Alexander Bird.


Episode 1: Epidemiological models have been frequently mentioned in the media lately. What are they? And how do they work? In this I will focus today on the model that is the simplest and most frequently used model in epidemiology, the SIR model. This model was developed by Kermack and McKendrick in 1927 and has its origins in the work of Sir Ronald Ross, who won a Nobel prize for his research on the transmission of malaria.

Ep. 1 – Video Recording
Ep. 1 -Text
Ep. 1 -PDF Slides
Ep. 1 -PowerPoint Slides


Episode 2: Herd Immunity explained.

Ep. 2 – Video Recording
Ep. 2 – PowerPoint Slides


Episode 3: What is the UK government’s COVID-19 strategy?

Ep. 3 – Video Recording
Ep. 3 – Text


Mental Illness and Creativity - Online
24 March 2020 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Alexander Bird, King’s College London

Online Videoconference

Video Recording

Description:

Romantic authors saw creative genius as close to madness, since madness frees the mind from constraints and convention and allows truly original thought to flourish. I look at the evidence for the frequently remarked on correlation between madness and creativity. Is there such a correlation? And if so does it confirm the romanticist view of the relationship between the two?
 

Re-valuing Death - Postponed until further notice
17 March 2020 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Robin Durie, University of Exeter (Member of the Lancet Commission on the Value of Death)

Large Committee Room, Hodgkin Building, Guy’s Campus

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

(See this event also on Facebook)

 
Description:

The Lancet Commission on The Value of Death argues that contemporary society has developed an unhealthy relationship with death due in part to the over-medicalisation of death and dying. Amongst the signs of this unhealthy relationship are the ever increasing amounts of healthcare budgets that are spent on prolonging the lives of those who are dying, with seemingly little or no regard for the quality of the life being prolonged; the investment in the search for immortality amongst the very richest in society, at the same time as the poorest are denied access to even the most basic provision of palliative care; and the gradual shift of the experience of dying from communities and families to hospitals. The core problem of this Lancet Commission is one to which philosophy can make a unique contribution, not least because philosophy has, from its very inception in the work of Plato, understood itself as a “practice for death”. And yet, philosophers such as Spinoza have also argued that “philosophy thinks of death least of all things”. In the first part of this discussion, I will explore this tension in philosophy’s approach towards death; then, I will draw on some more contemporary thinkers, such as Georges Canguilhem, in order to develop a philosophical position from which it may be possible to begin valuing death anew.
 

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

Reading:

  • Paul E Griffiths, John Matthewson, Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Volume 69, Issue 2, June 2018, Pages 301–327, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axw021

Convener: Harriet Fagerberg

Location: Room 508, Philosophy Building

 
Abstract:
 
Some ‘naturalist’ accounts of disease employ a biostatistical account of dysfunction, whilst others use a ‘selected effect’ account. Several recent authors have argued that the biostatistical account offers the best hope for a naturalist account of disease. We show that the selected effect account survives the criticisms levelled by these authors relatively unscathed, and has significant advantages over the BST. Moreover, unlike the BST, it has a strong theoretical rationale and can provide substantive reasons to decide difficult cases. This is illustrated by showing how life-history theory clarifies the status of so-called diseases of old age. The selected effect account of function deserves amore prominent place in the philosophy of medicine than it currently occupies.
 

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

Reading:

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.
 

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.

(See this event also on Facebook)

 
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.

(See this event also on Facebook)

 
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.
 

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