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Defining the Boundaries of Disease

Date: Thursday – Friday 15 – 16 October 2015
Venue: Dunmore Lang College, Macquarie University
Time: 09:00 – 17:00

A two-day multi-disciplinary conference will be held at Macquarie University, Sydney, on October 15-16, 2015. This conference brings together scholars in the philosophy of medicine together with practicing clinicians in discussing just where, and why, the boundaries of disease should be set.


Wendy Rogers (Macquarie University)
Mary Walker (Macquarie University)

Confirmed participants:

Wendy Craig (Department of Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary)
Jenny Doust (Centre for Research in Evidence-based Practice, Bond University)
Wendy Rogers (Philosophy Department and Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University)
Thomas Schramme (Department of Philosophy, University of Hamburg)
Mary Walker (Philosophy Department, Macquarie University)

Questions relating to what should and should not be counted as disease, and where exactly the boundary between disease and non-disease should lie, are critical to the provision of appropriate health care. However, these questions have become increasingly complex with changes in medical knowledge and diagnostic technologies. The distinction between risk factor and disease has become blurred; common diseases have been redefined expansively (e.g. type 2 diabetes or chronic kidney disease); and sophisticated diagnostic tests now detect abnormalities which may or may not have pathological implications.

Responding to these questions requires engaging with medical and scientific knowledge and with the philosophical literature on disease definition. But these are not merely interesting academic questions: there are serious practical implications to setting disease boundaries. Where is the ‘right’ place for these boundaries, such that patients receive appropriate treatments to avoid excess morbidity and mortality, while avoiding the harms of overdiagnosis and overtreatment?

PROVISIONAL Program (As of 17 Sept):

Thursday 15 October:

09:15 – 10:45 : Welcome and introduction

10:45 – 10:45 : Thomas Schramme, “Delineating disease from a naturalist point of view.”

10:45 – 11:15 : Morning tea

11:15 – 12:15 : Wendy Rogers and Mary Rogers, “The line drawing problem.”

12:15 – 13:15 : Rachel Ankeny, “Geneticisation in the OMIM: Distinguishing Disease from Variation.”

13:15 – 14:00 : Lunch

14:00 – 14:45 : Jenny Doust, “When should we agree to changes to disease boundaries?”

14:45 – 15:30 : Lynette Reid, “Truth or spin? Disease definition in cancer screening.”

15:30 – 16:00 : Afternoon tea

16:00 – 16:45 : Wendy Craig, “Thyroid Cancer: an opportunity to redefine disease.”

18:30 : Conference dinner

Friday 16 October:

09:00 – 10:00 : Patrick McGivern and Sarah Sorial, “Harm and Disease.”

10:00 – 11:00 : John Mathewson and Paul Griffiths, “Boundaries from biology.”

11:00 – 11:30 : Morning tea

11:30 – 12:30 : Stacy Carter and Chris Degeling, “A negotiated, sociotechnical, outcomes-oriented approach to diagnosing health-related conditions

12:30 – 13:30 : Lunch

13:30 – 15:00 : Panel: “Implications of the boundary issue in five research areas:

Lanei Alexander (Obesity)
Yves Aquino (Asian cosmetic surgery)
Nikki Coleman (lyme disease)
Harry Schone (fibromyalgia)
Anke Snoek (addiction)
15:00 – 15:30 : Afternoon tea

15:30 – 16:30 : Summary and closing comments

Program for download [PDF KB]
Abstracts [PDF 87KB]

Contact: Mary Walker

Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics II: Identity and Persistence

“Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics II: Identity and Persistence”
18 September, University of Southampton, UK.

Lynne Baker (Amherst): ‘A Puzzle about Pregnancy: first there is one person, then there are two.’
Ellen Clarke (Oxford): ‘Reproduction and Evolution’
Elselijn Kingma (Southampton): ‘Budding Humans? Pregnancy & Identity’
Steinvor Arnadottir (Stirling): ‘On the Metaphysical Implications of the Part-Whole View.

Although philosophers have explored metaphysical questions related to pregnancy – most obviously abortion and the metaphysical status of the fetus – little philosophical attention has been paid to pregnancy itself. That is a remarkable omission because pregnancy raises important philosophical problems in metaphysics, ethics and epistemology: should the foetus be regarded as part of or ‘merely surrounded by’ the mother? If persons can be parts of other persons, what does this imply for bodily ownership and personal and numerical identity? What special rights and duties does the unique status of pregnancy bestow? Does the radically transformative character of pregnancy mean that those who have never been pregnant are excluded from certain kinds of knowledge about pregnancy and its consequences? This workshop explores the implications of pregnancy for personal identity and personal ontology.
This workshop is one of a series of four in the project Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics, Ethics & Epistemology, funded by the Southampton Ethics Centre and the University of Southampton ‘Adventures in Research’ Scheme, with added support from the British Society for Philosophy of Science and the Aristotelian Society. It is preceded by another workshops on Metaphysics, on ‘the foetus and the maternal organism’ on the 21st of July, and, prior to that, two workshops on Ethics and Epistemology on the 18th of June 2014 and the 13th of April 2015.

Registration is free of charge, and will include tea/coffee/refreshments. Delegates must provide/ pay for their own meals; there is an option to sign up for a buffet lunch (cost: GBP 8.50) when registering via the online store:
Please register by September 10th. If you would like to attend but childcare duties render your attendance difficult, please contact the organisers (as far in advance as possible).

For more information, program, accessibility information & registration:

Call for Papers: JECP Special Issue on Philosophy of Medicine

Submission deadline: Friday, 29th January 2016

The Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice (JECP) is calling for submissions in any area of the philosophy of medicine and health care for a special edition to be published in 2016.

The philosophy of medicine has grown as an area of research to  encompass questions about evidence, values (and the relationship between them), clinical judgment, health policy, public health, and preventive medicine.

We particularly welcome work that examines the implications of developments in computer-aided medical practice, including the impact of algorithmic approaches to clinical reasoning, as well as the philosophical dimensions of the “hollowing out” phenomenon of cognition, whereby some are arguing that computers will be replacing much of the factual and reasoning dimensions of clinical care and robotics increasingly displacing surgical skills.

We also welcome responses to papers published in previous thematic editions (16:2, 17:5, 18:5, 19:3, 20:6. 21:3), in line with the ethos of encouraging on-going critical debate that has generated so many enlightening exchanges in the pages of the journal. But we are just as keen to receive contributions in entirely new areas of this expanding field, representing excellent examples of the application of philosophy to questions of substantive import in medicine and healthcare.

The JECP is an international health sciences journal (Impact Factor 1.52) that focuses on the evaluation and development of clinical practice in medicine, nursing and the allied health professions.  It has a large and diverse readership including practitioners and academics from a vast range of areas, and a twenty-year tradition of publishing papers raising epistemological, metaphysical and ethical issues underlying clinical policy and practice.  Since 2010, its annual special issues in the philosophy of medicine have stimulated debate on numerous topics, via a combination of original papers, commissioned responses and conference reports. Themes covered have included the nature of causation and explanation in medicine, causal inference, epidemiology, values-based practice, evidence-based medicine, person-centred care, psychiatric diagnosis and practice, medical phenomenology, narrative explanation, casuistry, probabilistic and clinical reasoning, as well as fundamental debates in medical epistemology.

Manuscripts can be submitted online using the link – please mark the submissions clearly with the words “Philosophy thematic issue”.

The deadline for submission of manuscripts is Friday, 29th January 2016.  Original papers are usually no more than 5000 words in length, and detailed author guidelines are available at

Informal enquiries: please contact Jonathan Fuller (

2015 Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable

6th Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable Understanding Disease and Illness

August 11-12, 2015
University of Bristol

Keynote speakers: Rachel Cooper (Lancaster) and Trish Greenhalgh (Oxford).

We will endeavour to enable access to all. Please let the conference administrator, Ms Jess Farr-Cox ( know if you have any access requirements.

For more information, full program, and to register:

Enquiries should be directed to the conference administrator, Jess Farr-Cox (

Scientific committee: Rachel Ankeny, Alexander Bird, Alex Broadbent, Havi Carel, Fred Gifford, Harold Kincaid, Miriam Solomon, Julian Reiss, Jeremy Simon, David Teira.

This roundtable is supported by the Wellcome Trust, as part of the Life of Breath project (

Duhem lectures on philosophy of medicine

Conférences Duhem 2015

Duhem 2015 La SPS a le plaisir de vous convier aux prochaines conférences Duhem, organisées en partenariat avec l’Académie nationale de médecine.

Thème : philosophie de la médecine
Date : 10 juin 2015
Lieu : Académie nationale de médecine, 16 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, Salle des séances

Orateurs invités :
– Paul Thagard (philosophie)
– Joël Coste (histoire et épistémologie de la médecine)
– Laurence Zitvogel (médecine)
– Marina Cavazzana-Calvo (médecine)

Programme détaillé :

9:00 Assemblée générale de la SPS
9:30 : Accueil
9:40 : Allocution de la Présidente de la SPS
9:50 : Allocution de Raymond Ardaillou, Secrétaire perpétuel honoraire de l’Académie

10:00 : Laurence Zitvogel (Inserm U1015, Institut Gustave Roussy), “Immuno-Oncologie ou La révolution thérapeutique en cancérologie”
10:45 : Commentaire, par Thomas Pradeu
11:00 : Question

11h15 : Pause café

11:30 : Joël Coste (Université Paris Descartes, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes) “Les maladies chroniques en médecine”
12:15 : Commentaire, par David Teira
12:30 : Questions

12:45-14:15 : Déjeuner

14:15 : Marina Cavazzana (INSERM) “Thérapie génique des maladies héréditaires
15:00 : Commentaire, par Marie Darrason
15:15 : Questions

15:30 : Pause café

15:45 : Paul Thagard (University of Waterloo) “Explaining Mental Illness”
16:30 : Commentaire, par Luc Faucher (en cas d’indisponibilité : M. Lemoine)
16:45 : Questions

17:00 : Conclusion

Conference: Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine

A conference on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine is to be held in the University at Buffalo, NY, on July 30 – August 1, 2015 .
The conference is centered on four presentations by Christopher Boorse and Jerome Wakefield, in which each criticizes the other’s work. Full details are available here.
For more information, email:

CONF: Evidence Live

Evidence Live ( is an international conference aimed at addressing and attempting to solve problems within EBM, and is also a forum for criticisms of EBM.  Philosophers of medicine interested in attending (and participating in) this conference are welcome.  Through the efforts of Jeremy Howick, the International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable has become an associate member of the Evidence Life conference.  This enables members of the International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable to register for this rather expensive conference at special rates, opportunities available are:

  • Individual full access at full rate– £365 (Saving £160) this offer closes 06/04/2015
  • Individual full access Monday only  – £195 (Saving £80)
    Individual full access Tuesday only   – £175 (Saving £75)

If you are interested in registering for this conference, and would like to know more please contact Ruth Davis( letting her know that you are a member of the International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable.