20-22 Jun 2013 Paris (France)

IASPM 2013 > Call for contributions

International Advanced Seminar in the Philosophy of Medicine

"Unity and autonomy in the philosophy of medical science"


Call for contributions



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.


A new event in philosophy of medicine

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. 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 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.


Specific details

Eligible applicants are grad students, post-doctoral students or any early-career researcher that has defended his or her Phd dissertation within the last five years. Applicants should electronically submit an anonymous abstract (between 750 and 1000 words) in English via Science.conf.org (https://iaspm.sciencesconf.org)  and fill out a separate online form providing their name, affiliation, research position, personal mailing address and country of origin. Applicants should pay special attention to the “submission guidelines” described on the website for the seminar. The deadline for submissions will be March 15, 2013. Notifications of acceptance should be sent to the selected applicants by April 15, 2013. The IASPM may be able to help junior researchers with their lodging fees during the seminar. Selected researchers do not need to register for the conference but anyone else interested in attending should register on the website of the IASPM seminar (there is a limited number of registrants) from April 15, 2013. For additional information, please contact us at: iaspm@sciencesconf.org.

 Caution : The deadline for submitting an abstract has been extended to March 22, 2013. Notifications of acceptance will be accordingly sent to the selected applicants by April 22, 2013.

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