skip to primary navigationskip to content

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

Michaelmas Term 2017: Cancer

This term, we will focus our readings on philosophical issues arising in cancer research, treatment and prevention. These readings also allow us to cover a range of fundational questions in the Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, including the goals of medical research, the harms of overdiagnosis, the nature of disease, the social epistemology of medical knowledge, and the broader relationships between science and society. In December, there will also be a major, one-day International conference on the Philosophy of Cancer, which group members are all invited to attend.

Week 1: Researching cancer 1: reductionism or organicism?

Marcum, J. A. (2005). Metaphysical presuppositions and scientific practices: reductionism and organicism in cancer research. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 19(1), 31–45.

Week 2: Researching cancer 2: integration or pluralism?

Plutynski, A. (2013). Cancer and the goals of integration. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 44(4), 466–476.

Week 3: Diagnosing cancer 2: defining and naming disease

Reid, L. (2017). Truth or Spin? Disease Definition in Cancer Screening. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, online-first.

Week 4: Diagnosing cancer 3: diagnosing or predicting?

Schwartz, P. H. (2014). Small tumors as risk factors not disease. Philosophy of Science, 81(5), 986–998.

Week 5: Screening for cancer 1: the epistemology of screening

Solomon, M. (2015). A developing, untidy methodological pluralism. Chapter 9 of her Making medical knowledge. Oxford University Press, USA.

Week 6: Screening for cancer 2: the ethics of screening

Fleurbaey, M., & Voorhoeve, A. (2013). Decide As You Would with Full Information!. In Eya, Hurst, Norheim and Wikler (eds) Inequalities in Health: Concepts, Measures, and Ethics. Oxford University Press, 113–128.

Week 7: Screening for cancer 3: the ethics of screening

Justman, S. (2012). Uninformed consent: mass screening for prostate cancer. Bioethics, 26(3), 143–148.

Week 8: Cancer in, and cancer as, society

Sontag, S (1978) Chapters 1, 2, 8 and 9 of Illness as Metaphor. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.

Additional event

13 December 2017: One Day Workshop on Philosophy of Cancer; HPS. Speakers include Anya Plutynski, Justin Biddle, Lynnette Reid, Alex Voorhoeve. For more information, contact Stephen John (sdj22) or Joseph Wu (jw895).