Past Events

Symposium: Self-Knowledge in and out of Illness -- Video links below
3 May 2016 - 4 May 2016 - 09:00-17:30

Self-knowledge has always played a role in health care since a person needs to be able to accurately assess her body or behaviour in order to determine whether to seek medical help. But more recently it has come to play a larger role, as health care has moved from a more paternalistic model to one where the patient is expected to take charge of her health; as we realized that early detection, and hence self-examination, can play a crucial role in outcomes; as medical science improves and makes more terminal illnesses into chronic conditions requiring self-management; as genetic testing makes it possible to have more information about our futures; and with the advent of personal electronic devices that make it easy for a person to gather accurate real-time information about her body.

It can be hard to get good information about oneself, and even harder to know what to do it. Sometimes self-knowledge is needed for a good outcome, but sometimes it is useless, or worse. Breast self-examination can lead to over-treatment, learning that one has a predisposing gene can create a detrimental illusion of knowing more about the future than one does, and data about one’s vital signs can be meaningless if taken out of a context of interpretation. We look at how these and other issues play out in a variety of medical contexts.

In conjunction with the Symposium, the Palgrave Communications journal will publish a special issue based on the same topic. More details and the Call for Papers can be found at:

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Abstracts PDF

3 May – Greenwood Lecture Theatre

Morning: 9:00-12:30

Welcome: Stuart Carney, Dean of the GKT School of Medical Education
Introduction: Sherri Roush, Peter Sowerby Chair in Philosophy and Medicine (Video)

Chair: Gareth Owen, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Tony David, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Self-Reflection in illness and health – literal and metaphorical? (Video)

Nick Shea, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Metacognition for acting and deciding together (Video)

Fiona Johnson, University College London

Self-Perception of Weight: Is a little knowledge a dangerous thing? (Video)

Matthew Hotopf, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Big data, Big Brother and the internet of things: the challenges of implementing mobile health (Video)


Afternoon: 2:30-5:30 – followed by reception

Chair: Sherri Roush, King’s College London

Fiona Cowdell and Judith Dyson, University of Hull

Skin Self-examination (Video)

Quassim Cassam, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick

Self-knowledge in Diagnosis and Self-Diagnosis (handout) (Video)

Paul Norman, University of Sheffield

Psychological aspects of Breast Self-examination (Video)

Reception: 5:30

4 May 2016 – Harris Lecture Theatre, Hodgkin Building

Morning: 9:00 – 12:00

Introduction: Simon Howell, Dean of Biomedical Sciences

Chair: Abdi Sanati, Consultant Inpatient Psychiatrist, North East London NHS Foundation Trust

Christine Patch, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals

Genetic Testing and Screening: tales from the real world (Video)

Sherri Roush, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Hypochondria and self-recalibration (Video)

Sacha Golob, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London

Self-Cultivation and Self-Knowing: Knowledge as Style (Video)


Afternoon: 2:00-5:00

Chair: Sacha Golob, Department of Philosophy, KCL

Veronika Williams, University of Oxford

“I just know” – experiences of self-managing acute exacerbations in COPD (Video)

Havi Carel, University of Bristol

What kind of knowledge can illness promote? (Video)

Tim Holt, University of Oxford

Sailing close to the wind: models and metaphors for the self-management of diabetes (Video)


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Workshop on the Replication Crisis in Biomedicine
14 June 2018 - 13:30-18:00

Verena Heise (Oxford)

Robust Research – Progress, pitfalls and promise

How do we respond to the reproducibility crisis in academia? How do we respond to the people who have had enough of experts? And what does this have to do with the Cambridge Analytica scandal? In this talk I will focus on some practical solutions such as open science and good research practices that can help make our research findings more robust. While there are a number of solutions that can be implemented by individual researchers, there are wider issues, for example around incentives and skills training, that require cultural change. To this end we have started the Robust Research Initiative at the University of Oxford, which is mostly driven by early career researchers. I will give an overview of our current activities and the pitfalls and promise associated with developing robust research strategies.


Chris Chambers (Cardiff)

Registered Reports, five years on: A vaccine against bias in research and publishing

In 2013, Cortex became the first journal to offer Registered Reports, a format of preregistered empirical publication in which peer review happens prior to data collection and analysis (see The aim of Registered Reports is to overcome publication bias and various forms of researcher bias (e.g. selective reporting of statistically significant results and hindsight bias), by performing peer review in part before studies commence. Publishability is then decided by the importance of the research question and quality of the methodology, and never based on the results of hypothesis testing. In this talk I will introduce the concept of Registered Reports and provide an update on its progress at at Cortex and beyond, including its uptake by prominent journals such as Nature Human Behaviour, generalist journals including Royal Society Open Science, and emerging clinical trial formats. I will also discuss preliminary evidence of impacts on the field and emerging Registered Report funding models in which journals and funders simultaneously assess proposed protocols. Together with allied initiatives, Registered Reports are helping to reshape the incentive structure of the life and social sciences to place theory, transparency and reproducibility at the fore.

Marcus Munafò (Bristol)

Scientific Ecosystems and Research Reproducibility

There have been a number of high profile cases of academic fraud, but a more insidious threat to the integrity of science is the extent to which distortions of scientific best practice increases the likelihood that published research findings are in fact false. There is growing evidence for a range of systemic problems within science, such as flexibility in the analysis of data, selective reporting of study results, publication bias against null results, influence of vested (e.g., financial) interests, and distorted incentive structures. A number of strategies for improving the situation will be discussed.



All are welcome! If you would like to come but do not have a King’s/GKT identity card, please let me know so that I can inform security at New Hunt’s House. Email:

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Peter Sowerby Interdisciplinary Workshop
6 November 2019 - 7 November 2019 - 10:30-16:45

The Brain

Conceptual Issues in Biological Psychiatry

6-7 November

Bedford Room (Ground Floor)
Senate House
University of London
Malet Street

Registration: This event is now fully booked. If you’d like to be put on a waiting list send an email containing your full name to Harriet Fagerberg ( with ‘Sowerby Biological Psychiatry Waiting List’ in the subject line.


6th of November

  • 10:30 – 11:00 Registration
  • 11:00 – 11:15 Welcome
  • 11:15 – 12:15 Gareth Owen (KCL) – Psychiatry: neurology, psychology or social work?
  • 12:15 – 12:30 Break
  • 12:30 – 13:30 Vaughan Bell (UCL) and Monica Greco (Goldsmiths) – The Functional/Organic distinction in neurology and psychiatry: a multiplicity of uses
  • 13:30 – 14:15 Lunch
  • 14:15 – 15:15 Anna Daniels (Charité) – A claim for integrated dimensional psychiatry
  • 15:15 – 15:45 Break
  • 15:45 – 16:45 Mohammed Rashed (Birkbeck) – Madness and the limits of social recognition

7th of November

  • 09:45 – 10:00 Coffee
  • 10:00 – 11:00 Matthew Parrott (Oxford) – Intelligibility and mechanistic explanations
  • 11:00 – 11:15 Break
  • 11:15 – 12:15 Daniel Williams (Cambridge) – Predictive processing in psychiatry – a critique
  • 12:15 – 12:30 Break
  • 12:30 – 13:30 Henrik Walter (Charité) – Network theory of mental disorder and the new mechanism: Moving forward
  • 13:30 – 14:15 Lunch
  • 14:15 – 15:15 Kari Theurer (Trinity College) and Daniel Hartner (Rose-Hulman) – A critique of psychiatry’s turn towards precision medicine
  • 15:15 – 15:45 Break
  • 15:45 – 16:45 Rachel Cooper (Lancaster) – Ongoing problems for naturalistic accounts of mental disorder

General inquires can be directed to the organisers: Harriet Fagerberg ( and Anneli Jefferson (