People

This page contains an overview of people at King’s College London with research interests in philosophy of medicine. It also features projects, groups and centres with a particular philosophy of medicine focus. Are you a prospective student, potential new colleague or maybe just interested in the kind of interdisciplinary research being done across philosophy and medicine at King’s? Have a look around!

Are you a King’s academic or research student working in philosophy of medicine who would like to be listed here or added to our internal research mailing list? Email us at philandmed@kcl.ac.uk

Sowerby Philosophy & Medicine Project

The Philosophy & Medicine project is a joint venture between King’s Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, and The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation. The project works to foster interdisciplinary links between philosophy and medicine by hosting a range of public lectures, events and activities to encourage dialogue and collaborative research across these disciplines. 

  • Professor David Papineau, Professor of Philosophy of Science
    David Papineau has a range of interests in the philosophy of medicine. He has worked on concepts of health and disease, especially in connection with mental disorder. He is also interested in the methodology of medical research and in particular in experimental and observational techniques for establishing causal efficacy. Associated with this he has written about the ethics of clinical trials and the nature of informed consent.
  • Harriet Fagerberg, PhD Student in Philosophy and Acting Project Lead
    Harriet’s research interests are in Philosophy of Biology, Mind, Medicine and Psychiatry. She is particularly interested in theories of disease/disorder, and the relationship between mental and somatic disorders. She is a GTA in the Philosophy Department and the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine.
  • Gregor Bös, PhD Student in Philosophy and Project Assistant
    Gregor’s research interests are phenomenology, philosophy of science, and their application in medical contexts. He is particularly interested in Husserl’s and Merleau-Ponty’s concept of a pre-theoretical “lifeworld” and its relationship to scientific knowledge. He is a GTA in the Philosophy Department, the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, and an occasional Research Assistant at Queen Mary, University of London.
  • Dr Tuomas Pernu, Research Associate
    Tuomas works at the intersection of philosophy of science and philosophy of mind, with a focus on the issue of causal explanation in particular. In addition to more general topics relating to philosophy of science, he has also published on philosophy of biology, philosophy of the neurosciences, philosophy of psychiatry, and philosophy of psychology. Much of his recent work focuses on agential explanation and its connections to the notions of moral and legal responsibility. For several years, Tuomas has been running various reading groups on philosophy of medicine and chairing the Philosophy & Medicine Essay Contest.

Wellcome Trust Project: ‘But why is that better?’

An investigation of what applied philosophy and ethics can bring to quality improvement work in healthcare

Quality improvement aims to tackle the shortcomings of health services, but quality improvement initiatives do not always work and sometimes create new problems. One of the reasons for these failures is that people do not agree about what counts as good quality, and quality is often interpreted in ways that fail to capture the aspects of healthcare that matter to people. This Wellcome Trust-funded project uses the tools of applied philosophy to help deliver on the promise, and avoid the pitfalls, of healthcare quality improvement. We think that applied philosophy can help elucidate and address the conceptual, ethical and practical challenges faced by researchers and quality improvement practitioners, with potentially transformative implications.

  • Professor Alan Cribb, Professor of Bioethics and Education
    Alan is interested in the contribution of applied philosophy and ethics to healthcare policy and practice. Recently he has focussed much of his work on ideas and practices associated with ‘person-centred’ care (e.g. shared decision-making and support for self-management). He is also interested in the relationship between philosophical and sociological approaches to ethics. He is PI on the “But why is that better?” project.
  • Dr Polly Mitchell, Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Bioethics and Public Policy
    Polly is a post-doctoral research fellow with “But why is that better?, thinking and writing about the meaning and measurement of ‘good’ healthcare and the way that values are manifested in the practices and discourses of healthcare institutions. Outside of the project she works on the definition and measurement of health and well-being, and the role that measures of health and well-being play in healthcare decision-making and public policy.

Global Health Institute

King’s Global Health Institute (KGHI) is an interdisciplinary centre for research, education and training, working to a new Global Health agenda. Our Institute is the voice for Global Health at King’s, and the focal point for our large academic community of Global Health researchers and students.  KGHI embodies King’s commitment to Global Health and will catalyse and champion high-impact interdisciplinary research, focused on improving healthcare in less developed settings.

  • Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram, Senior Lecturer of Global Health and Philosophy
    Sridhar Venkatapuram is an academic-practitioner of global health ethics and justice. He brings together the natural and social sciences related to health with philosophy, particularly political philosophy, to address issues related health rights, equity and good governance for health at the local, national, and global levels. Sridhar has been at the forefront of global health for over 25 years starting as a researcher at Human Rights Watch documenting HIV/AIDS related abuses in India in 1994.  He recently spent one year in Geneva working as a Wellcome Trust Senior Research fellow at the World Health Organization, and as a fellow at the Global Health Centre, IHEID-Graduate Institute. 

The Centre for the Humanities and Health

The Centre for the Humanities and Health is a UK leader in the Health Humanities, dedicated to researching the cultural meaning and lived experiences of wellbeing and illness, through humanities and creative arts scholarship and practices. CHH is interested in investigating the roles patient experiences play in cultural and medical discourses and how they are valued or disregarded as forms of evidence and expertise contributing to medical and scientific knowledge.

  • Professor Neil Vickers, Professor of English Literature and the Health Humanities 
    Neil Vickers is interested in the collective dimensions of major illness experience. What effects does illness have on collective life? He has published a number of papers applying ideas taken from the relatively under-used discipline of psychoanalytic psychosomatics to understand the role of the body in the development of selfhood. He is interested in the phenomenological tradition and disciplines allied to it such as the microsociology of Goffman and Garfinkel. He is especially interested in the impact major illness has on the forms of recognition we give one another by default. 
  • Professor Patrick ffrench, Professor of French
    Patrick’s broad area of research is post-war French thought and critical theory; as part of this he has recently become interested in the project of ‘institutional psychiatry’ developed by the French philosopher and writer Felix Guattari and others at the Clinique La Borde, amongst other places, and in its links to wider movements around therapeutic communities. With Professor Neil Vickers he is co-director of the Centre for Humanities and Health, part of the Arts and Humanities Research Institute at King’s. 

Wellcome Trust Project: Mental Health and Justice

The Mental Health and Justice Project is a 5 year multi-disciplinary collaboration addressing two fundamental duties: the duty to protect people in contexts where they can be vulnerable, and the duty to respect their agency and autonomy. It comprises 6 inter-related research strands involving philosophers alongside clinical experts, lawyers, neuroscientists, social scientists and service-users, as well as partnership with the Bethlem Gallery.  Based at King’s College London, but with collaborators both in the UK and globally, this project aims to show how the combined perspectives and methods of interdisciplinary research can use conceptual understanding to achieve direct outcomes on practice and policy.

  • Dr Gareth Owen, Reader in Mental Health, Ethics and Law
    Gareth’s main research interest is consent and decision-making capacity and he has published widely on the theory, practice and policy relating to this area. He leads the Mental Health, Ethics and Law research group at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and the Wellcome Trust funded Mental Health and Justice Project. He is an honorary consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (King’s Health Partners) and a trustee of the Maudsley Philosophy Group Trust.
  • Dr Tania Gergel, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Psychological Medicine
    Tania first came to King’s as a doctoral student and then lecturer in the Departments of Classics and Philosophy, specialising in Plato and the Presocratics. She returned to King’s in 2012 and joined the Philosophy of Medicine project. She now specialises in Philosophy of Psychiatry and Mental Health Ethics and Law. Main research interests are: advance decision-making; decision-making capacity; personal identity; phenomenology; ‘lived experience’; epistemic injustice and stigma. In broad terms, her work focuses on applying conceptual analysis to medicine and law, to develop clinical and policy initiatives alongside philosophical exploration. 

ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health

The Centre for Society and Mental Health’s vision is to develop research to promote and sustain good mental health in communities. It works to  improve our understanding of the complex interrelationships between society and mental health, create platforms enabling new collaborations between disciplines and with societal partners, and work closely with users, communities, practitioners, and policy makers to design and assess novel evidence-based strategies for prevention and intervention. In realising this vision, we aim to shift public debate about mental health away from a focus on individualised interventions, towards social practices and policies that promote and sustain good mental health in communities.

  • Professor Nikolas Rose, Professor of Sociology, Co-Director of the Centre for Society and Mental Health
    Nikolas Rose has worked on the history and philosophy of the social and human sciences, and their role in the genealogy of contemporary conceptions of self and identity.  He has long-standing interests in conceptual issues raised by practices of law, politics and the government of conduct. His current research concerns the role of the life sciences and neurosciences in changing conceptions of human identity, normality and pathology, and shifting ways of thinking about and governing human beings. He is Co-Director of the King’s Centre for Society and Mental Health.
  • Professor Craig Morgan, Professor of Social Epidemiology, Co-Director of the Centre for Society and Mental Health
    Craig Morgan has interests in the philosophy of science and knowledge, particular in relation to theoretical understandings of and empirical research on mental health. His work focuses, broadly, on the social determinants of mental health, including across diverse settings and groups, which relates to long-standing questions about how to conceptualise and generate knowledge about both social (incl. structure, action, and meaning) and mental phenomena and how these relate to each other.

The Maudsley Philosophy Group, Maudsley Hospital

The Maudsley Philosophy Group (MPG) provides a unique space in which understandings of mental illness are questioned, challenged and explored. The MPG is a registered charity whose main aim is to raise public awareness of, and engagement with, fundamental questions arising in the practice of psychiatry. MPG is rooted in the tradition of multi-disciplinary clinical and conceptual work which lay at the heart of the original Maudsley Hospital. This broad ‘Maudsley ethos’ needs to be carefully nurtured to ensure that the human person remains central to understandings of mental health and illness. We work to fulfil this aim by inviting leading thinkers to the Maudsley to engage in expert analysis and rigorous discussion of key beliefs and concepts. 

Departments and Divisions at KCL

Department of Philosophy 

  • Dr Thomas Rowe, Lecturer in Philosophy
    Thomas is interested in issues relating to fair distribution, especially in cases where decision-makers act under conditions of risk and uncertainty. One recent project aims to defend the fairness of weighted lotteries for distributing scarce vaccines and medical treatment. Another project has criticised “first come first served” methods of allocating scarce resources.
  • Dr Patrick Butlin, Visiting Research Fellow 
    Patrick’s research is in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, and includes a project on addiction. He also teaches philosophy to students in the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine.
  • Winnie Ma, PhD Student
    Winnie is finishing her PhD in Philosophy in which she defends a pragmatist ethics of belief. She is interested in the question of whether moral and practical considerations can be relevant with respect to what we ought to believe, or whether we should only ever aim to believe what we have good reason to think is true. She is currently interested in this question in the context of clinical medicine, and in particular in whether or not it is ever okay for doctors to stereotype their patients, where she takes “stereotyping” here to involve believing that a person belonging to a certain social group has or is more likely to have a particular feature on the basis of accurate and reliable statistical evidence that that feature is associated with membership in that group.
  • Dr Arjun Devanesan, PhD Student
    Arjun’s research interests are in philosophy of probability and clinical trial methods, particularly inference in the individual case. Arjun is also a Fellow of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine at the Royal College of Anaesthetists, and a Garden Fellow with the Royal College of Physicians.

Department of Global Health and Social Medicine 

  • Professor Anne Pollock, Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine
    A scholar in the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies, Anne engages feminist, critical race, and postcolonial theory to analyse biomedical knowledge claims and how it matters who makes knowledge and where. She is interested in how medical technologies and disease categories become enrolled in ideas of identity and difference, as well as demands for social justice – especially with regard to race, gender, and citizenship. Pharmaceuticals are a core topical focus in much of her research and teaching, and this has fostered a particular interest in the philosophy of chemistry.
  • Dr Silvia Camporesi, Senior Lecturer in Bioethics & Society
    Silvia has a longstanding interest in the philosophy of medicine in sport. She has written extensively on issues of disability and super-ability in sport, on the goals of sports medicine, and on the concept of enhancement in a variety of contexts. She is an expert in gender issues in sport and she has worked on the case of Caster Semenya for ten years. Silvia has a PhD in Philosophy of Medicine from King’s and a PhD in Foundations of Life Sciences and Ethics from the University of Milano. She was first trained in medical biotechnologies. 
  • Dr Gry Wester, Lecturer in Bioethics
    Gry Wester is interested in how theories of equality and social justice apply to questions around health, health care and public health policy. Much of her recent work focuses on different aspects of health inequality, including both theoretical questions about equity in health as well as implications for policy and practice. She is also interested in questions around ageing and disability.
  • Emma Wynne Bannister, PhD Student in Global Health and Social Medicine 
    Emma is a final year PhD student at the department of Global Health and Social Medicine. Her doctoral research is focused on the capability to live in the community with equal standing, especially in the context of persons with cognitive disabilities and severe mental illnesses. And, she is particularly interested in the intersection between health and social justice. Additionally, she has an interest in theories of relational equality and autonomy, and how they might influence our understanding of health, disease, and disability.   

Department of History

  • Dr Caitjan Gainty, Lecturer in the History of Science, Technology & Medicine
    Over the course of her training and career, Caitjan has been especially interested in the history and contemporary of bioethics and its impact on health practices, beliefs and policies transatlantically. She is also the PI of the ‘Healthy Scepticism’ project, which examines the shifting nature and significances of medical evidence and knowledge-making practices  as a way of re-assessing the current polarizing binaries that guide not only our assessments of medicine but also our relationship with expertise more largely: right or wrong, fact or fiction, true or false. Tracing how these emerged, and how they have displaced any more nuanced assessment of medical and scientific knowledge, is one of the central goals of the project.

Department of Political Economy 

  • Dr Roberto Fumagalli, Lecturer in Political Economy 
    Roberto’s research interests cover a wide range of areas, including philosophy of economics, philosophy of science, moral and political philosophy, philosophy and public policy. His works target a variety of themes related to bioethics and philosophy of medicine, such as: philosophy and the science of well-being, public policy and paternalism, slippery slope arguments, the notion of life worth living, and the allocation of scarce life-saving resources.

Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience 

  • Professor Derek Bolton, Professor of Philosophy and Psychopathology
    Derek Bolton is a clinical psychologist and philosopher with wide-ranging interests in philosophy of medicine and psychiatry. Derek founded the KCL master’s degree in philosophy of mental disorders and has contributed extensively to the philosophical debate over the metaphysics of mental illnesses. He is the author of ‘What is mental disorder? An essay in philosophy, science and values’ (2008) and ‘The Biopsychosocial Model of Health and Disease: New Philosophical and Scientific Developments’ (2019). His current research concerns child and adolescent mental health.
  • Dr Andrew McWilliams, Clinical Research Fellow and PhD Student
    Andrew is interested in ethics and philosophy of mind, as they pertain to notions of identity and authenticity in personal decision-making. His research into the legal notion of mental capacity uses metacognition (“thinking about one’s own thinking”) as a window for study. Analysis of the presentation of neuroscientific evidence in the Court of Protection has involved epistemological consideration. Notions of agency and will are important for understanding disorders of movement, such as functional neurological disorders and Tourette Syndrome. 

Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation

  • Alessandra Giusti, PhD student 
    Alessandra’s research aims to understand the meaning and acceptability of person-centred healthcare in low- and middle- income countries, and to generate recommendations for clinicians, policy makers and clinical trainers on how to implement quality, person-centred care. Her interests lie in understanding what truly matters to patients and families, and transforming local health systems to promote well-being.