International Advanced Seminar in the Philosophy of Medicine (Paris, 20-22/06/2013)

Theme: Unity and autonomy in the philosophy of medical science
 
Philosophy of medicine is a growing, widely investigated field whose foundations as a discipline are still under construction. Apart from the International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable, some less topic-specific seminars such as the Advanced Seminar in the Life Sciences, and some graduate programs, there are few specialized international venues that allow for a common educational background amongst students of this field.
 
To this end the International Advanced Seminar in the Philosophy of Medicine (IASPM) aims to offer a biennial international three-day event for PhD students and early-career researchers in philosophy of medicine to meet, exchange ideas, acquire a general background in the discipline and present their work. Five institutions that have teaching programs or research activity in philosophy of medicine will organize this event together: the Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (CNRS/University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/ENS), the Institute for the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz), the European School of Molecular Medicine (in collaboration with the research group Biomedical Humanities at the European Institute of Oncology, Milan), the Center for Humanities and Health at King's College in London and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.
 
For the first meeting of this three-day event, the main theme will be "Unity and autonomy in the philosophy of medical science.” Indeed, philosophy of medical science is not limited to the debate over the nature of disease (naturalism versus normativism) anymore and has extended its scope to include: philosophy of evidence-based medicine, philosophy of biomedical ontologies, philosophy of epidemiology, philosophy of psychiatry, and philosophy of medical explanation (models, mechanisms, causation). However, if some of these issues have been the main theme of dedicated books and conferences, most of the time they are separately examined, thus avoiding central questions of conceptual unity between these different fields of research. For instance, do philosophy of evidence-based medicine and philosophy of epidemiology use the same concept of causation? To what extent do philosophy of biomedical ontologies and the debate over the nature of disease appeal to the same concept of natural kinds? Is the philosophy of medical science a variegated collection of separate issues or are there some common conceptual grounds that give unity to this discipline?
 
But the question of internal coherence in philosophy of medicine is deeply related to the question of its autonomy, both from other fields in philosophy of science and from social studies of medicine. Indeed, on the one hand, it is obvious that these different branches of philosophy of medicine have been considerably influenced by general philosophy of science, philosophy of statistics, and philosophy of biology.
 
While this influence was needed, we may wonder how autonomous philosophy of medicine really is and whether some concepts do, in fact, need to be specifically developed for the medical context. For example, is there such a thing as a medical concept of the gene? Are mechanisms in medicine different from mechanisms in biology? Are explanations in medicine of the same kind as explanations in biology?
 
On the other hand, stakeholders in philosophy of medical science should probably define more clearly how they relate to, and differ from, social studies of medicine, namely the history and sociology of medicine. Indeed, while philosophy of medical science is usually considered distinct from these disciplines, many philosophers of medicine frequently borrow their methodological tools and little has been said about how this may affect the way they conceptualize their objects.
 
 The first meeting of this conference will be held in Paris in 2013, at the Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques, from June 20 to June 22. The seminar will gather twenty-six speakers, five senior researchers and twenty-one junior researchers in philosophy of medicine, coming from the organizing universities and others.
 
For further details, visit http://iaspm.sciencesconf.org
 

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