Video Archive (List)

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


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?


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.


Sharing Personal Stories in Mental Health Debates
29 November 2018 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Lisa Bortolotti, University of Birmingham

Classroom 12, Hodgkin Building at Guy’s Campus

Those not holding a valid King’s ID card can register by emailing Harriet Fagerberg their name prior to the 28th of Nov.

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Video Recording


In this paper I consider the use of personally significant stories in public debates about mental health. I offer one example: the debate whether the biomedical model or the trauma-informed approach provides the best account of distress, revived by the launch of the Power Threat Meaning framework. First, I observe how personally significant stories are used and claim that they do not merely offer insight into a first-person experience or illustrate some aspects of distress and autism in a vivid and memorable way, but often constitute arguments for a given viewpoint in the context of heated and polarised debates. Then, I ask what it would take for stories to be good arguments for the viewpoint they support. In the end, I suggest that participants in a public debate have a responsibility to maintain some critical distance from the personally significant stories that are shared within that debate, as such stories can have a powerful influence on the development and outcome of the debate.


A Plurality During Pregnancy?
22 November 2018 – 17:00-18:30

Lecture: Jonathan Grose, University of Southampton

Strand Campus, Somerset House East Wing, Room SW-2.17

Those not holding a valid King’s ID card can register by emailing Harriet Fagerberg their name prior to the 21st of Nov.

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Video Recording


I argue that the case of mammalian, placental pregnancy is a neglected and significant example of what Clarke calls “the problem of biological individuality”. This example is much closer to home than those typically discussed in the literature. I apply both evolutionary and immunological accounts of individuality to the “counting question”, how many individuals are present during a placental pregnancy? I conclude that evolutionary approaches yield the answer “two”, due to bottlenecking, germ-soma sequestration and sexual recombination. By contrast, an immunological approach answers “one”, due to pervasive interactions during pregnancy. Consequently, pregnancy provides a clear, novel example of the need for a pluralist approach to biological individuality.



2018 Annual Sowerby Lecture
13 November 2018 – 19:30-21:00

Reflections on why I want what I want from research and researchers — as a patient

Lecture: Sir Iain Chalmers

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

Video Recording

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A quarter of a century ago, I decided to ask myself what I wanted—as a patient—from health research and researchers. In a BMJ paper I stated that I wanted decisions about my health care to be informed by ‘reliable evidence’. I also noted that people are bound to vary in what they regard as ‘reliable evidence’, and that a leap of faith would anyway always be needed in judging what the effects of health care options would be for me, as an individual. But I also made clear that, for me, ‘reliable evidence’ would usually mean evidence derived from systematic reviews of carefully controlled evaluative research, assembled with an awareness of the ways in which biases and the play of chance can play us false.

I suggested in the paper that there had been too little support for the kind of applied health research that I felt I needed to inform my health care choices. And I gave examples of the damaging consequences that can result from insufficient attention to reducing the effects of biases and the play of chance.

My lecture will revisit the themes I addressed 25 years ago and reflect on why—as a patient—I still want what I wanted from research and researchers quarter of a century ago.


About the Speaker:

Iain Chalmers was founding director of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit ( between 1978 and 1992, and founding director of the UK Cochrane Centre ( between 1992 and 2002. Since 2003, he has coordinated the James Lind Initiative, which developed the James Lind Alliance between 2004 and 2013 ( Iain edits The James Lind Library ( and Testing Treatments international English (; he co-organised with Paul Glasziou the 2014 Lancet series on reducing waste and adding value in biomedical research (; and he is a co-investigator with Andy Oxman and colleagues in Norway and East Africa of the Informed Health Choices Project (


Understanding our ordinary thought and talk about chronic pain
8 November 2018 – 12:30-14:00

Lecture: Emma Borg, University of Reading

Classroom 6, Hodgkin Building, Guy’s Campus – please note the unusual time.

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Video Recording


Please note that any external attendees, i.e. those not currently holding a valid King’s ID card, will need to send their names to Harriet Fagerberg ( prior to the 6th of November, so that she can notify King’s Estate Security.



Pain has a long history of study, from both the philosophical and the scientific perspectives, yet the question of what pain is, and how we conceive of and communicate about it, remains vexed. In this talk, we introduce a new approach to understanding our ordinary thought and talk about (chronic) pain – the so-called ‘polyeidic’ approach – whereby pain thinking is held to involve tacit stances on a number of distinct pain dimensions. We argue briefly that this approach is supported by experimental findings in philosophy and then turn to consider the clinical relevance of the view, suggesting that it provides a better understanding of chronic pain patients and the treatments from which they may benefit.



Is Suicide a Psychiatric Problem?
24 April 2018 – 13:00-14:30

Lecture: Hane Maung, Lancaster University

Room 4.16 Henriette Raphael House, Guy’s Campus

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Video Recording


Suicide is understood as being a complex outcome of multiple interacting factors at multiple levels of organisation, including diverse processes at individual, interpersonal, and environmental levels. Despite this complexity, suicide is commonly framed in contemporary health discourse as primarily being the causal outcome of mental disorder. Accordingly, mental health professionals are granted responsibilities for suicide prevention and can even be held legally liable when suicides occur. This selective emphasis on mental disorder raises philosophical problems. How do we make sense of the messy and murky interactions of factors that are involved in suicide causation? What accounts for our privileging of mental disorder over other factors as the primary cause of suicide? Is the connection between mental disorder and suicide wholly causal or partly the result of how mental disorder is defined? These questions are important, because they call attention to implicit assumptions involved in the way the issue of suicide causation is framed in contemporary health policy. In this talk, I draw on theory from the philosophy of science to unpack some of these assumptions and to explore the extent to which the contemporary view of suicide as being primarily a causal outcome of mental disorder can be sustained.


2017 Annual Sowerby Lecture
9 November 2017 – 19:30-21:00

Mental Health and Justice: Classical and Romantic perspectives

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

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Video Recording


Psychiatry has long attracted interpretations from cool, detached perspectives valuing objectivity (Kraepelin, Freud, Beck) to hotter, embodied perspectives valuing subjectivity (Reil, Laing, Foucault).

These two perspectives (‘classical’ and ‘romantic’) are now expressing themselves in psychiatry’s meeting point with law with different approaches taken to the decision-making of the mentally ill. A recent ‘classical’ achievement in this area is the Mental Capacity Act (2005) which lays out a test of decision-making capacity within a legal framework that has been described as “a masterpiece of legal clarity”. A recent romantic achievement has been the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which emphatically asserts a social model of mental illness in which society, not the brain, is the true source of disabilities.

This lecture will probe the subjectivity of some disorders of mind and brain. What, for example, is it like to be a decision-maker under conditions of brain injury unaware of one’s deficits or a person with affective disorder fluctuating between experiences of the future as intensely dark and intensely bright? And how should others respond? It aims to use these forms of human experience to challenge the single mindedness of both classical and romantic perspectives and draw out implications for psychiatry as a branch of medicine interacting with law and society.


About the Speaker:

Dr Gareth Owen leads the Wellcome Trust funded Mental Health and Justice Project – a collaborative research endeavour spanning psychiatry, law, ethics, neuroscience and social science/public policy. The project takes an interdisciplinary approach to the core dilemma of respecting vs. protecting the decision-making of people with mental disabilities or disorders. He did undergrad studies in physics, philosophy and medicine and post grad psychiatry training at the Maudsley.


Privacy, consent and health data: using identifiable health data for secondary purposes ethically, but without consent
16 March 2017 – 17:00-18:30

LectureJames Wilson, Department of Philosophy, UCL

Video Recording

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A number legal regimes (e.g. England’s section 251 of the NHS Act 2006), have a mechanism that allows research involving identifiable health information to proceed without consent for a large population on grounds of the impracticability of gaining consent, even though the same research project would require the consent of all participants were the number of participants significantly smaller. This paper examines the cogency of the reasoning involved in such decisions, arguing that it seems difficult to justify on the assumption that in usual circumstances individuals have a right that their identifiable health information not be used without their consent. If using someone’s identifiable information without their consent would violate their rights if they were a member of a small group, why should it stop being a violation of that person’s rights if the group they are in becomes sufficiently large? I propose instead a new ethical justification for such use of health data, which I call the reasonable trespass account.


Manic Temporality and Decision-Making: A Phenomenological Approach
2 March 2017 – 17:00-18:30

LectureWayne Martin, Department of Philosophy, University of Essex.

Video Recording


The symptom scales and diagnostic criteria for mania are peppered with temporally inflected language: increased rate of speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas, hyperactivity. But what is the underlying phenomenological structure of temporal experience in manic episodes? We identify a set of hypotheses about manic temporality formulated by two pioneers in 20th century clinical phenomenology: Eugène Minkowski (1885-1972) and Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966). We then test, critique, and refine these hypothesis using methods of “second-person phenomenology” in an interview-based study of persons with a history of bipolar disorder and a current diagnosis of mania. We show that Minkowski and Binswanger were wrong to claim that persons experiencing acute mania are somehow trapped in the present moment. But we provide evidence that supports their hypothesis that disturbance in the formal structure of temporal experience is a core feature of mania. Developing a suggestion from Binswanger, we propose an interpretation of manic temporality as involving a distinctive form of protention. We identify consequences of this temporal disturbance for the assessment of decision-making capacity under conditions of mania.

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What's wrong with pragmatic trials?
26 January 2017 – 17:00-18:30

LectureNancy Cartwright, University of Durham and University of California, San Diego (Work with Sarah Wieten)

Video Recording

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In principle nothing is wrong with pragmatic trials: trials that ‘seek to determine the effectiveness of an intervention in a real-world setting to inform clinical decision making’ (Roland and Torgerson, 1998). In aid of this, pragmatic trials eliminate some of the exclusion conditions that are usual in what are labelled ‘ideal’ or ‘explanatory’ trials. The trouble comes with the concepts of ‘effectiveness’ and ‘external validity’. Positive results in well-conducted trials, whether ideal or pragmatic, show only that the treatment has worked for some members of the population enrolled in the trial. They cannot establish that it works in general nor what other factors help or hinder. Similarly, a pragmatic trial can establish that the treatment worked in the particular ‘real world’ setting – the one in which it was conducted, not that it works in ‘real world clinical practice’. Nor can they tell us what, if anything, is causally relevant in those settings. What can they do then? We shall argue that pragmatic trial results can be used in just the same way as ‘explanatory’ trial results: in tandem with a great deal of other evidence and theory, especial ‘midrange’ theory, to build credible local claims about how specific populations – or possibly even a specific individual – in specific places and circumstances may respond.


Surviving the Sirens: Should there be advance directives for people with bipolar?
10 November 2016 – 17:00-18:30

LectureTania Gergel, IoPPN
Comment: Alex Ruck Keene, Barrister

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


Bipolar Affective Disorder is a cyclical condition, with periods of remission and periods of illness, which often involve loss of decision-making capacity and damaging behaviour. For people with Bipolar, a self-binding (advance) directive (SBD), which commits them to treatment during future episodes, even if unwilling, can seem the most rational solution for an imperfect predicament. Nevertheless, efforts to establish a provision for SBDs are hampered by valid, but also paralysing, ethical, clinical and legal concerns. Paradoxically, the rights of people with Bipolar are being ‘protected’ through being denied an opportunity to protect themselves. We will present and discuss a model of an SBD which could represent a legitimate and ethically coherent form of self-determination.

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Video Recording


Delusional Reasoning
27 October 2016 – 16:30-18:00

LectureMatthew Parrott, KCL Philosophy

King’s Building, K-1.56, Strand Campus


In psychiatric textbooks and diagnostic manuals delusions are typically characterized in terms of impaired reasoning or as manifestations of irrationality. Yet it remains unclear what precisely is irrational about delusional patterns of thinking. In this presentation, we will examine several styles of reasoning exhibited in cases of delusion, some of which, as we shall see, appear surprisingly rational. This suggests, I shall claim, that delusional cognition is far more nuanced than standard textbooks and manuals might lead us to believe.

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Video Recording


Were you a part of your mother? The Metaphysics of Pregnancy
13 October 2016 – 16:30-18:00

LectureElselijn Kingma, Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton
Comment: Dr. Shree Datta, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, King’s College Hospital

New Hunt’s House, G.12, Guy’s Campus


What is the metaphysical relationship between the gestating organism and its embryo/fetus? I compare two views: (1) the fetal container model: the fetus is not part of but merely contained within or surrounded by the gestating organism; (2) the part-whole model: the fetus is part of its gestator. The fetal container model appears to be the received view. It is widely assumed but, I argue, without good argument; this model needs substantial support if it is to be taken seriously. The part-whole model is not presently defended, but I argue that it derives considerable support from a range of biological and physiological considerations. I conclude that the part-whole model has the upper hand and that, if true, this has important consequences for the metaphysics of persons and organisms and, perhaps, ethics and law.

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Video Recording


29 September 2016 – 16:30-18:00

LectureDavid Galloway, KCL Philosophy

Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Hodgkin Building, Guy’s Campus


Would it be a good thing for us if we were able to lengthen our lives indefinitely, in excellent physical health? Or would we all, even in the most favourable circumstances, choose eventually to die? If we would so choose, then our mortality is not in itself a bad thing, and immortality is not to be desired. I will discuss factors we might consider in making this choice.

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Essay Contest
Reading Group Video Recording


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)


See Poster See Poster B&W


Cause or Correlation? Causal Evidence in Medicine and Law
28 January 2016 – 18:30-20:00

Lecture: Brendan Clarke, Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL
Comment: Nicki Cohen, Neuropathologist, GKT Department of Medical Education, KCL

Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Hodgkin Building, Guy’s Campus

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How can medical researchers generate reliable knowledge about treatment outcomes? The usual answer to this question is that randomised clinical trials are the best way of doing this. But there are many cases where doing a trial is not possible. In such cases, researchers must rely on other kinds of evidence. However, as is well-known, these kinds of evidence have many shortcomings, such as suffering from confounding and various species of bias. This talk uses methods drawn from the law to explore improved ways of working with imperfect evidence in medicine.

Abstract Video Recording


Annual Sowerby Lecture -- All Welcome
26 November 2015 – 18:30-20:00

“If I had to live like you, I think I’d kill myself”: Explaining the Disability Paradox

Lecture: Havi Carel, Professor of Philosophy, University of Bristol
Comment: Brian Hurwitz, Professor of Medicine and the Arts, King’s College London
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The ‘disability paradox’ identifies a significant difference in how ill and disabled people rate their wellbeing, compared with healthy people asked to imagine how happy they would be if they were unwell. Ill and disabled people’s wellbeing rating is only slightly lower than that of healthy people. However, healthy people rate their hypothetical wellbeing as much lower when asked to imagine themselves as ‘hypothetical patients’. There are three possible explanations: either patients misreport their wellbeing due to adaptation, or healthy people mis-imagine ill-health, or both.


In this paper I examine these explanations and suggest that it is healthy people who misimagine ill-health. I also claim that it is impossible to claim that ill people are misreporting their wellbeing due to adaptaion without this having general consequences for any subjective wellbeing measurements. I also claim that the phenomenon of adaptation to illness raises important questions for health economics, and that the psycho-social mechanisms involved in adaptation can be illuminated by a phenomenological analysis.

Video Recording


”Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me”: The Problem of Defining Delusion
12 November 2015 – 18:30-20:00

Lecture: Dr. Abdi Sanati, Consultant Inpatient Psychiatrist, North East London NHS Foundation Trust
Comment: Dr. Luis Flores, MD, MA, MPhil

King’s Building, K2.31, Strand

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Delusions have long been seen as a hallmark of madness, but what makes something a delusion? People have mistaken beliefs without being called deluded, and the beliefs of deluded people can be true. In this talk, these and other difficulties with defining delusion will be explored from the points of view of both theory and clinical practice.

Abstract Video Recording


Lies, Damn’d Lies, and Statistics: Is it possible to communicate cancer risk accurately?
15 October 2015 – 18:30-20:00

Lecture: Steve John, Lecturer, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
Comment: Deborah Ruddy, Consultant in Clinical Genetics, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital

Henriette Raphael House, Function Room, Guy’s Campus

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The fact that different ways of presenting the same risk information can have very different effects on patients’ choices raises an ethical challenge: how, if at all, should medical professionals use such “perlocutionary knowledge”? In this paper, I suggest that reflection on the nature of risk estimates poses an even harder problem: which reference classes should physicians use to calculate patients’ risks in the first place? I then sketch one answer to this challenge, based on an account of rational gambling. Unfortunately, this answer seems to conflict with much current medical practice. In the final part of the paper, I try to justify current practice. I conclude with some remarks on the implications of my argument both for clinical ethics and for the philosophy of science.

Abstract Video Recording


Placebo-Controlled Surgical Trials
1 October 2015 – 18:30-20:00

Lecture: David Beard, Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford
Comment: David Papineau, Professor of Philosophy, King’s College London

K2.31, King’s Building, Strand, King’s College London

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Video Recording