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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Research Seminars

Reading Groups

Language Groups

Departmental Seminars

Seminars are held on Thursdays from 3.30 to 5pm in Seminar Room 2. There are refreshments after the seminar at 5pm in Seminar Room 1.

Organised by Agnes Bolinska.

18 January Charlotte Sleigh (University of Kent)
Making sense of art and science
Historian of science Charlotte Sleigh has been working with science-artists since 2013, and in this talk she presents her reflections on hoped-for and actual relations between the two disciplines. A brief history of the field of A&S (art and science) will highlight the different purposes that art-science hybrids have fulfilled in different contexts, with particular emphasis on the past twenty years in the UK. Key concepts that have been marshalled to mediate between the two fields are subjected to critical analysis.

A second part of the talk draws on Charlotte's particular experience in two A&S projects of her own: Chain Reaction! (2013) and Biological Hermeneutics (2017). In it, she reflects on some of the difficult and even embarrassing realities involved, drawing on Shapin's notion of 'lowering the tone' to help highlight some of the political tensions between art and science. Institutionalisation, money and space emerge amongst the categories in urgent need of more honest appraisal. Finally, related questions of research and critique are raised. There is a failure on the part of many scientists (just as there is amongst the general public) to understand and hence respect the research and critical practice that underpins contemporary art practice. What appears in galleries and elsewhere is the top tenth of the iceberg; research and critical practice are the nine-tenths that lie beneath. A&S collaborations may be improved, Sleigh argues, by an improved communication of this little-appreciated feature of contemporary art. Additionally she suggests that contemporary artists (as well as scientists) may have their research enhanced through an engagement with STS, which may be considered as the 'out-sourced' critical practice element of science.

25 January Casey McCoy (University of Edinburgh)
Modelling at the border of experimental and theoretical practice in physics
In exploratory contexts in contemporary physics, such as the hunt for beyond standard model physics and the search for the nature of dark energy, physicists regularly cite the importance of 'model independence' for guiding experimental design and interpretation. What is model independence, how did it come to be a term of art in physics, and what is it good for? In answering these questions I show, among other things, how epistemic context distinguishes phenomenological modelling from a model independent approach, how this approach produces a means of communication at the border of experimental and theoretical practice in physics, and how model independence creates a target for experimental triangulation.
1 February David Singerman (University of Virginia)
Sugar, science and the history of capitalism
In recent years, the history of capitalism has gained prominence as a powerful framework for understanding the development of the United States and its relationship to the world. But many of the field's claims about commodities, networks and knowledge rest on categories which the history of science has shown to be unstable and contested. This paper takes as its focus the sugar trade of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, one of the history of capitalism's canonical cases. Sugar showcases how approaches pioneered by the history of science can reorient our understanding of corruption, monopoly, labour and other problems that remain as crucial to today's Second Gilded Age as they were to the First.
8 February Jack Stilgoe (UCL)
Machine learning, social learning and self-driving cars
Self-driving cars, a quintessentially 'smart' technology, are not born smart. The algorithms that control their movements are learning as the technology emerges. Self-driving cars represent a high-stakes test of the powers of machine learning, as well as a test case for social learning in technology governance. Starting with the successes and failures of social learning around a much-publicized fatal Tesla Model S crash in 2016, I argue that trajectories and rhetorics of machine learning in transport pose a substantial governance challenge. Governing these technologies in the public interest means improving social learning by constructively engaging with the contingencies of machine learning.
15 February John Tresch (University of Pennsylvania)
Barnum, Bache and Poe: the forging of science in the Antebellum US
Two opposed tendencies characterised US public culture around 1840: first, a sharp increase of printed matter in which the sites, audiences, styles and speakers for matters of public concern exploded in number and diversity; second, an elite movement to unify knowledge through centralised institutions. In the domain of science, Barnum's 'American Museum' typified the first, while the US Coast Survey, directed by patrician polymath and West Point graduate Alexander Dallas Bache, exemplified the second. The life and writings of Edgar Allan Poe – who trained at West Point, and wrote constantly about the sciences, even as he struggled to survive as an editor, poet and storyteller – pushed in both directions at once. Poe 'forged' American science and letters in two senses: by crafting believable fakes which fed the uncertainty about authority over knowledge, and by lending aid to projects to restrict the flow of information and establish a unified intellectual infrastructure. His work thus offers uniquely astute, if dramatically conflicted commentary on the relations of science and public in a key phase of national consciousness and industrialisation.
22 February The seminar originally scheduled here will be given on Wednesday 21 February at 1pm as part of the CamPoS series
1 March Thirteenth Cambridge Wellcome Lecture in the History of Medicine
Alisha Rankin (Tufts University)
Poison trials, panaceas and proof: debates about testing and testimony in early modern European medicine
At the courts of sixteenth-century Europe, a number of princely physicians and surgeons tested promising poison antidotes on condemned criminals. These tests were contrived trials, in which a convict took a deadly poison followed by the antidote. The medics sometimes shared detailed descriptions of their poison trials in printed publications or private correspondence, much as they shared case histories of ill patients. Yet these very same physicians disputed the value of remarkably similar tests on animals conducted by charlatans and empirics in marketplace shows. Sometimes, however, these worlds overlapped directly. In 1583, an empiric named Andreas Berthold published a work in Latin praising the virtues of a marvellous new drug, a clay called 'Silesian terra sigillata'. Berthold presented the drug as a perfect Paracelsian remedy for poison and, like most antidotes, useful against many other illnesses as well. While such lofty claims might easily have been disregarded, Berthold noted that his readers did not have to 'trust me on my bare words'. He concluded his book with three testimonial letters from powerful figures – two German princes and one town mayor – about trials they had conducted on the drug in 1580 and 1581. In all three cases, physicians had given poison to test subjects (two used dogs, one a condemned criminal), followed by the antidote. In every case, the subjects who were given the Silesian terra sigillata survived the poison. These testimonial letters provided official legitimacy to an alchemical empiric, in the form of tests conducted by physicians. Meanwhile, other alchemists began to use a different form of testimony to demonstrate the marvellous effects of their antidote cure-alls: testimonial letters from patients describing their miraculous recoveries, which physicians derided as a perversion of the case history. Some of these alchemists likewise ridiculed the poison trial as a lowly and irrelevant form of proof. This talk examines the overlap between the genres of poison antidote and panacea and the debates these drugs engendered in attempts to 'prove' their efficacy.
8 March Cancelled

Twentieth Century Think Tank

The Twentieth Century Think Tank offers broad coverage of 20th- and 21st-century topics in the history, philosophy and sociology of science, technology and medicine. The regular programme of papers and discussions takes place on Thursdays over lunch.

Think Tank meetings are held fortnightly on Thursdays, 1–2pm in Seminar Room 2. All welcome!

Organised by Mary Brazelton, Joseph Martin and Richard Staley.

18 January Jaume Navarro (University of the Basque Country)
Ether: the multiple lives of a resilient concept
In this session I propose to discuss the text of the introduction to a collective volume on the ether in the early twentieth century soon to be published by Oxford University Press. This book is a snapshot of the ether qua epistemic object in the early twentieth century. The contributed papers show that the ether was not necessarily regarded as the residue of old-fashioned science, but often as one of the objects of modernity, hand in hand with the electron, radioactivity or X-rays. Instrumental was the emergence of wireless technologies and radio broadcasting, certainly a very modern technology, which brought the ether into social audiences that would otherwise have never heard about such an esoteric entity. Following the prestige of scientists like Oliver Lodge and Arthur Eddington as popularisers of science, the ether became common currency among the general educated public. Modernism in the arts was also fond of the ether in the early twentieth century: the values of modernism found in the complexities and contradictions of modern physics such as wireless action or wave-particle puzzles a fertile ground for the development of new artistic languages; in literature as much as in the pictorial and performing arts.

The question of what was meant by 'ether' (or 'aether') in the early twentieth century at the scientific and cultural levels is also central to this volume. The essays in this volume display a complex array of meanings that will help elucidate the uses of the ether before its purported abandonment. Rather than thinking of the ether as simply a name that remained popular among several publics, this book shows the complexities of an epistemic object that saw, in the early twentieth century, the last episode in the long tradition of stretching its meaning and uses.

1 February Seung-joon Lee (National University of Singapore)
People's vital minimum: canteens and nutrition science in industrial China
At the moment when Mao Zedong was triumphantly standing atop the Heavenly Peace Gate in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to declare the founding of a new socialist regime on 1 October 1949, China was facing an existential crisis: food shortages. The Communists now had to face the same dilemma that had long haunted their political arch-enemy, because food scarcity and rampant malnutrition could not be solved overnight, even after the downfall of the KMT rule. The malnourished population, once a strategic target for mobilization against their political opponent, could turn into a potential political threat to the new regime's stability. Furthermore, food calories arguably remained the prime source of energy in China's national economy, which was predominantly agricultural. To build a strong socialist economy — industrially mighty and yet egalitarian — the Chinese working population would need to eat better and consume more food than it ever had before.

Against this backdrop, the Communist authorities undertook unsparing efforts to promote nutrition science in order to optimize the working population's food consumption. Rather than starting from ground zero, however, the Communists emulated the state-led nutrition movement that the previous regime had once practised. Industrial canteens — once a political battleground upon which workers seeking their food entitlement and the KMT-style labour management frequently collided — transformed into a new space that embraced various culinary innovations, nutritional experiments, and the politicization of nutrition science.

15 February Susan Jones (University of Minnesota)
The homelands of the plague: Soviet disease ecology in Central Asia, 1920s–1950s
This presentation analyzes the development of an important Russian/Soviet school of 'disease ecology' at the intersection of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and ecological fieldwork. Part of a larger study in progress, I will argue that (1) although entanglements with the dynamic Soviet political system directly affected scientists' work and ideas, analysis of their local activities in the borderlands demonstrates a surprising independence and autonomy; and (2) initial analysis also points to the importance of indigenous nomadic peoples' knowledge and lived experience in informing scientific theories about endemic diseases. I conclude by discussing how collaboration between HSTM graduate students, scientists, and informants in Kazakhstan have been essential to this historical project.
1 March Cancelled
Fri 23 March Mario Biagioli (University of California, Davis)
How to game the citation metrics game in contemporary science

Coffee with Scientists

The aim of this group is to explore and enhance the interface between HPS and science. Though many of us in HPS engage closely with science and scientists, we could benefit from more explicit discussions about the relationship between HPS and science itself, and from more opportunities for HPS-scholars and scientists to help each other's work.

Generally we meet on Fridays, 3.30–5.00pm in Seminar Room 2. Further information and reading materials will be distributed through the email list of the group; please contact Hasok Chang (hc372) if you would like to be included on the list.

26 January Marie-Ann Ha (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Medical Science, Anglia Ruskin University), hosted by Hasok Chang
Is 5-a-day enough? Nutrition, a science at crossroads
9 February Longzhu Shen (Research Associate, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge), hosted by Agnes Bolinska
Predicting the evolutionary trajectory of influenza
9 March Robert Asher (Senior Lecturer, Department of Zoology, and Curator, University Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge) with Adrian Currie (Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge)
Taxonomy, trees and truth in historical mammalogy

Cabinet of Natural History

This research seminar is concerned with all aspects of the history of natural history and the field and environmental sciences. The regular programme of papers and discussions takes place over lunch on Mondays. In addition, the Cabinet organises a beginning-of-year fungus hunt and occasional expeditions to sites of historical and natural historical interest, and holds an end-of-year garden party.

All seminars are held on Mondays at 1pm in Seminar Room 1. Please feel free to bring your lunch.

Organised by Sebestian Kroupa (sk796).

22 January Ádám Mézes (Central European University, Budapest)
Blood will tell? Constructions of the 'vampire problem' in the eighteenth century
In 1732, Habsburg military surgeons handed in an autopsy report to the provincial administration, in which they described several corpses that local Serbian Orthodox villagers claimed to be vampires. The report discussed an epidemic that disrupted the public order and resulted in dozens of dead subjects, many of whom (despite having been buried for up to two months) apparently refused to decay properly. The report incited a short-lived, but vigorous debate in the learned circles with contributors from the ranks of theology, natural philosophy, medicine and law. The phenomenon did not easily fit existing natural philosophical and demonological theories, hence opening the room for various ideas, such as vitalism, sympathies, astral influences, chemical processes and demonic activity to be discussed alongside one another. Since the eighteenth century, the debate has occupied a stable position in the narratives of disenchantment and enlightenment as a swift and complete victory of natural sciences over superstition.

Based on a reconstruction of the channels through which the first-hand reports travelled, the talk will argue that the learned debate started out at the provincial level in the form of appeals to the learned elite for scientific clarification, but it soon became a discourse in its own right. Furthermore, based on a comparative analysis of treatises and first-hand reports, the talk will try to show that the administrative and the learned discourses had different priorities and interests, which meant that in the end, the learned conclusions could not be convincingly applied at the grassroots level.

29 January Meira Gold (HPS, Cambridge)
The first geological chronology of ancient Egypt and the antiquity of man, 1846–63
The 1850s through early 1860s was a transformative period for Victorian studies of the remote human past, across many new and evolving disciplines. Yet very little is known about the role of ancient Egypt as a focus of these discussions. Naturalists and scholars with Egyptological knowledge fashioned themselves as authorities to contend with the divisive topic of human antiquity and looked to the country's ancient monuments and written records to support their various claims. In a characteristic case of long-distance fieldwork, British geologist Leonard Horner relied on Turkish-born, English-educated, Cairo-based engineer Joseph Hekekyan to measure Nile silt deposits around pharaonic monuments at the ancient sites of Heliopolis and Memphis. The excavations were jointly-funded by the Royal Society of London and Egyptian government and contributed to a research program, championed by Horner and his son-in-law Charles Lyell, to assign absolute dates to the most recent geological period. Hekekyan meticulously recorded his field observations in hundreds of letters, reports, sketches and maps, which he sent to Horner for analysis. Their conclusion in 1858 that humans had existed in Egypt for over 13,000 years was particularly shocking to those who endorsed traditional biblical chronology and the work entered heated exchanges about man's place in nature and Scriptural authority.

This talk will discuss these geo-archaeological investigations, the production and circulation of field records, Hekekyan's role as a go-between, and lastly, the publication's mixed reception by several groups in Britain, including Egyptologists, geologists, ethnologists, anthropologists, Scriptual chronologists and German biblical critics. The episode is indicative of the many practical attempts in this period to deal with the growing anxieties of human antiquity. It further illuminates the roles of local knowledge and ancient Egypt within debates about the age of humans and highlights mid-Victorian attempts to reshape porous disciplinary boundaries.

5 February Simon Werrett (University College London)
Joseph Banks: science, culture and the remaking of the Indo-Pacific world
In this presentation I assess the findings of a one-year AHRC-funded project on the career of Sir Joseph Banks, naturalist on Cook's first voyage and president of the Royal Society from 1778 to 1820. Against a view of Banks as a 'centre of calculation' participants reconsidered Banks as a connecting agent among existing imperial and scientific networks mobilising plants around the world and transforming British enterprises in the Indo-Pacific world. Participants also explored Banks after Cook, in a period between c.1780 and 1820 that is rarely discussed in the literature. During this period Banks fitted into a variety of networks of men and women engaged with the sciences, acted as an information manager and broker, and managed a diverse collection of botanical and personal images and texts. Participants doubted that he followed a coherent agenda in these activities.
12 February Petter Hellström (Uppsala Universitet)
Trees as keys, ladders, maps: a revisionist history of early systematic trees
In recent years, there has been a profusion of studies charting the history of tree diagrams in natural history and biological systematics. Whereas some of these have focused on one or a few arboreal schemes, the majority have presented long histories, spanning centuries and occasionally even millennia. Early or 'pre-Darwinian' trees typically feature in these histories as precursors to phylogenetics; sometimes even as the 'roots' of later trees. Together with colleagues in France, I have previously argued that one of the most frequently cited early tree diagrams, Augustin Augier's 'Botanical Tree' (1801), cannot in any reasonable way be made to play the role of forerunner to later, evolutionary trees – even as the author pitched his tree of natural families in explicitly genealogical terms. In this talk, I push the argument further by proposing an alternative reading of the historical record. Starting from Augier's tree and other early examples, I argue that 'pre-evolutionary' trees should be understood less in terms of what came after, and more in terms of what came before. Attending to the functions they performed as keys, ladders and maps, I argue that early trees were logical, rhetorical and mnemonic devices drawn to imagine perfect, static order.
19 February Caterina Schürch (LMU München)
Physico-chemical biology in practice, 1920s–1930s
During the interwar period, 'physico-chemical biology' was institutionalised on an unprecedented scale. A group of eminent researchers, science managers and philanthropists promoted the view that physical and chemical concepts and methods could and should be adopted in biology. My talk is concerned with the practical implementation of this vision: how did researchers (from the physical and the biological sciences) identify biological problems that were to be approached from a physico-chemical standpoint? And, after all, why did they decide to work on problems at the interface between the physical and life sciences? I will introduce four interwar research programs in which physical or chemical methods and concepts were used to investigate biological phenomena: research on plant growth hormones in Utrecht and Pasadena; Selig Hecht's work on the physical and chemical basis of vision; Cambridge biochemist Rose Scott-Moncrieff's study of the biochemical basis of flower colour inheritance; and the activities of Prague's 'biological-physical working group'. The talk will focus on the early phases of these research programs and show how these cross-disciplinary studies were planned, implemented, and evaluated. The analysis emphasises the material and technological conditions of the modern life sciences and, at the same time, provides insights into the methodological norms that shaped scientists' actual research actions. Secondly, it promises to speak to the motivations behind cross-disciplinary research collaborations. I will argue that researchers were willing to cooperate with practitioners from other disciplines, since they recognised their epistemical interdependence.
26 February Cancelled
5 March Cancelled
12 March Cancelled


AD HOC (Association for the Discussion of the History of Chemistry) is a group dedicated to history of chemistry. While our main focus is historical, we also consider the philosophical, sociological, public and educational dimensions of chemistry. The group meets on Mondays at 5pm in Seminar Room 1. Coordinated by Karoliina Pulkkinen.

22 January Chris Campbell (UCL)
Josiah Cooke and Charles Peirce: North American chemists in search of orderliness
5 February Frank James (UCL; The Royal Institution)
Humphry Davy's mineral collecting for the early Royal Institution
19 February Carolyn Cobbold (Clare Hall, Cambridge)
The wonders of coal tar: when chemistry became a nineteenth-century media sensation
5 March Vanessa Seifert (University of Bristol)
The integration of history and the philosophy of chemistry: how historical evidence can be used in support of a unificatory understanding of the relation of chemistry and physics
Venue: Newnham Terrace 1, Darwin College

History of Medicine

Seminars are on Tuesdays from 5.00 to 6.30pm in Seminar Room 1. Tea and biscuits are available from 4.40pm. All welcome!

Early Science and Medicine

Organised by Lauren Kassell and Dániel Margócsy.

30 January Sasha Handley (University of Manchester)
Sleep piety and healthy sleep in early modern English households
20 February Yari Perez-Marin (Durham University)
Pain and physiological processes in sixteenth-century medical texts from Mexico and Spain
6 March Cancelled

History of Modern Medicine and Biology

Organised by Jenny Bangham and Mary Brazelton.

23 January Margaret Charleroy (University of Warwick)
'Don't eat the pudding': food and nourishment in the nineteenth-century English prison system
13 February Elise Burton (Newnham College, Cambridge)
Genes against beans: favism, malaria and nationalism in the Middle East
13 March Cancelled

Generation to Reproduction

Organised by Lauren Kassell and Jesse Olszynko-Gryn.

6 February Valerie Worth (University of Oxford)
Slaying (or at least taming) a dreadful monster: Louis de Serres' treatise of 1625 for women suffering from infertility
27 February Cancelled


CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) is a network of academics and students working in the philosophy of science in various parts of the University of Cambridge, including the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and the Faculty of Philosophy. The Wednesday afternoon seminar series features current research by CamPoS members as well as visitors to Cambridge and scholars based in nearby institutions. If you are interested in presenting in the series, please contact Brian Pitts (jbp25). If you have any queries or suggestions for other activities that CamPoS could undertake, please contact Huw Price, Jeremy Butterfield or Anna Alexandrova.

Seminars are held on Wednesdays, 1.00–2.30pm in Seminar Room 2.

24 January J. Brian Pitts (Philosophy, Cambridge)
Even observables change in Hamiltonian general relativity
31 January Bennett Holman (Yonsei)
Dr Watson: the impending automation of medical diagnosis and treatment
7 February Wolfgang Schwarz (Edinburgh)
No interpretation of probability
14 February Craig Callender (UCSD)
Yikes! Why did past-me say he'd give a talk on future discounting?
21 February Mariam Thalos (University of Utah)
Disaggregating goods
28 February Cancelled
7 March Cancelled
14 March Cancelled

Twentieth Century Reading Group

The group discusses books and papers relating to the history and historiography of 20th-century science, technology and medicine, broadly construed. We meet on Thursdays, 1pm to 2pm in the Board Room. Organised by Mary Brazelton, Joe Martin, Charu Singh and Richard Staley.

Everyone is welcome – feel free to bring along your lunch.

This term we will consider readings on infrastructure, scale, climate and cartography on the following dates (alternating with Twentieth Century Think Tank):

25 January, on scale:

8 February, on place and geographies of climate change:

22 February


1 March

We will meet to discuss the work of Naomi Oreskes in preparation for her visit to Cambridge in mid May. We will focus on her important work with Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (New York/Berlin/London: Bloomsbury Press, 2010). The book is widely available in Cambridge libraries with a copy on reserve at the Whipple and online access at designated PCs in the UL and affiliate libraries.

We suggest reading chapter 6, 'The Denial of Global Warming', together with the conclusion and epilogue (which offer an account of the motivations underlying the work of major denialists, and 'a new view of science').

8 March


The Intersection of Gender, Race and Disability with Philosophy of Science

This new reading group meets on Mondays, 2–3pm, in the Board Room. Organised by Azita Chellappoo (asc63).

Week 1 (22 January)

Bailey, A. (2017). Tracking Privilege‐Preserving Epistemic Pushback in Feminist and Critical Race Philosophy Classes. Hypatia, 32(4), 876–892.

Additional reading for Week 1: Wolf, A. B. (2017). 'Tell Me How That Makes You Feel': Philosophy's Reason/Emotion Divide and Epistemic Pushback in Philosophy Classrooms. Hypatia, 32(4), 893–910.

Week 2 (29 January)

Third, Amanda (2010). Imprisonment and Excessive Femininity: Reading Ulrike Meinhof's Brain. Parallax, 16:4, 83–100.

Week 3 (5 February)

Holroyd, J. (2012). Responsibility for implicit bias. Journal of Social Philosophy, 43(3), 274–306.

Week 4 (12 February)

Li, Y. (2016). Testimonial Injustice without Prejudice: Considering Cases of Cognitive or Psychological Impairment. J Soc Philos, 47: 457–469.

Week 5 (19 February)

Yap, Audrey S. (2017). Credibility Excess and the Social Imaginary in Cases of Sexual Assault. Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 3, (4).

Week 6 (26 February)

Irvin, Sherri (2017). Resisting Body Oppression: An Aesthetic Approach. Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 3, (4).

Week 7 (5 March)

Tuana, N. (2004). Coming to understand: Orgasm and the epistemology of ignorance. Hypatia, 19(1), 194–232.

Week 8 (12 March)

Dotson, K. (2011). Tracking epistemic violence, tracking practices of silencing. Hypatia, 26(2), 236–257.

Science and Literature Reading Group

Following our tour of the four classical elements, this term the Science and Literature Reading Group looks to the fifth: aether. Our first three meetings focus on ways in which ethereal concepts have been used: as a vehicle for the imagination; as a medium for interconnection; and as a means of communication. The final meeting will celebrate completing the elementary series with a found poetry workshop using all of the texts we have read and discussed over the past year.

All are welcome to join in our wide-ranging and friendly conversations, which take place at Darwin College on selected Monday evenings from 7.30–9pm. The group is organised by Melanie Keene and Charissa Varma.

For recaps, further readings, news, and other updates, please follow us on Twitter @scilitreadgrp or visit our blog.

22 January – Imagination

5 February – Connection

26 February – Communication

12 March – Elementary Poetry workshop

Philosophy of Medicine Reading Group

This reading group is dedicated to new and old problems in philosophy of medicine. All are welcome.

Meetings take place on Tuesdays, 1–2pm, in Seminar Room 1.

Conveners: Tim Lewens, Stephen John, Jacob Stegenga, Anna Alexandrova

Week 1 (23 January)

Boorse, Christopher. 'What a theory of mental health should be.' Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 6, no. 1 (1976): 61–84.

Week 2 (30 January)

Keyes, Corey LM, and Shane J. Lopez. 'Toward a science of mental health.' Handbook of Positive Psychology (2002): 45–59.

Week 3 (6 February)

Stein DJ, Phillips KA, Bolton D, Fulford KW, Sadler JZ, Kendler KS. 'What is a mental/psychiatric disorder? From DSM-IV to DSM-V.' Psychological Medicine 2010 11 40 1759–1765.

Week 4 (13 February)

Andersen, Holly. 'Mechanisms: what are they evidence for in evidence-based medicine?' 2012 Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18: 992–999.

Week 5 (20 February)

Gillies, D. 'Evidence of mechanism in the evaluation of streptomycin and thalidomide.' Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 66 (2017) 55–62.

Week 6 (27 February)

Baetu, Tudor. 'The "Big Picture": The Problem of Extrapolation in Basic Research.' Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 67 (2016) 941–964.

Week 7 (6 March)

Sackett DL, Rosenberg WMC, et al. 'Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't.' BMJ 312 (1996) 71–72.

Guyatt G, Cairns J, Churchill D, et al. 'Evidence-Based Medicine: A New Approach to Teaching the Practice of Medicine.' JAMA 268 (1992) 2420–2425.

Week 8 (13 March)

Gillies, D. 'Hempelian and Kuhnian approaches in the philosophy of medicine: the Semmelweis case.' Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36(1) (2005) 159–181.

Philosophy and History of Physics Reading Group

The reading group meets on Tuesdays, 4.30pm to 6.30pm in the Board Room. Please contact Joe Martin (jdm205) or Jeremy Butterfield (jb56) if you would like access to a copy of the readings.

The theme for the term is Gravitational Waves. We suggest the following readings for the first three sessions, and list some other possible readings. But at the first one or two sessions, we will plan later sessions in the light of participants' interests.

23 January

30 January

6 February

  • Kip Thorne, Black Holes and Time Warps, W. Norton 1994: chapter 10

There is a copy of the Kennefick and Thorpe books in the Whipple, on Reserve. The book by D. Kennefick is also an ebook, freely available in the Cambridge University domain, through iDiscover.

Casebooks Therapy

Organiser: Lauren Kassell

'Casebooks Therapy' is an informal reading group for those interested in using the manuscripts of Simon Forman and Richard Napier in their research.

The aim of the reading group is to improve the palaeography skills of those who attend, as well as to provide guidance about how to make sense of Forman's and Napier's records. No familiarity with early modern handwriting is necessary, and the group is open to all. Attendees are invited to suggest a particular page or case from the casebooks that they have trouble reading to work through collaboratively. Participants should bring a laptop.

Meetings are held on occasional Wednesdays, 5.00–6.30pm in the Department. If you are interested in attending, please email Lauren Kassell (ltk21).

Latin Therapy

Latin Therapy is an informal reading group. All levels of Latin are very welcome. We meet on Tuesdays, 3.30–5.00pm in Room P19, to translate and discuss a text from the history of science, technology or medicine. This is an opportunity to brush up your Latin by regular practice, and if a primary source is giving you grief, we'd love to help you make sense of it over tea and biscuits!

To be added to the mailing list, or to suggest a text, please contact Boyd Brogan (bb320).

Greek Therapy

Greek Therapy meets every Wednesday during term time in the Board Room from 5.30 to 7pm.

We are an informal group for beginners and for experienced readers of Greek seeking to brush up their skills – all levels are welcome. Sessions usually involve a basic grammar session at the beginning followed by reading through a more advanced text. This term we will be reading Xenophon's Oeconomicus.

For more information or to be added to the mailing list, please email Liz Smith.