Members' Weekend Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd September 2017
PHILOSOPHY OF HEALTH
Links in the below time-table activate MP3 audio recordings of the
corresponding talks. Talk recordings and supporting material are (or will
soon be) also linked from talk summaries further below.
Health raises a number of interesting philosophical questions connected with
function, explanation, causation, the nature of evidence, the mind/body
relation, realism versus anti-realism, holism versus reductionism, rationalism
versus empiricism, and theories of well-being in ethics. Furthermore,
advancements in biomedicine, computer science and robotics are changing, and
have changed, the way we think about the nature of what it is to be healthy. A
person considered previously to be disadvantaged because of some physical
condition (for example lack of limbs) can now, aided by prosthetics, be at a
greater advantage. Conditions which were once believed to be debilitating, or
even fatal, have turned out not to be so. Do these changes mean that we must
revise how we understand the nature of health?
Six speakers will explore some of these questions and invite you to contribute
to the debate.
Brendan Hurley: A sense of Health; meaning and model
If the word 'Health' does not have an ostensive definition, is it a
substantive to which 'meaning' has to be attached? 'Sense' is that which
various academic disciplines can bring to the word. Two published
articles from the reading list by D Murphy and M Govedarica on contrasting
views of Health and Disease are examined, for the 'sense', 'meaning' and
'model' each provides.
Brendan is a retired medical practitioner with a keen interest in history
and philosophy. He graduated from the Medical School of the University of Cork
and subsequently worked in NHS general and psychiatric hospitals, H.M.Prisons,
and NHS general practice, as well as doing private medico-legal work. He holds
a BA (hons) degree in History.
Judith Stares: Does Illness have Meaning?
Evidence demonstrates that ill-health can have a purpose, and sometimes
symptoms can be easier to manage than the existential problems they mask. Is
it possible that in our search for ‘wellness’ we are approaching the subject
in entirely the wrong way?
This talk will give examples of illness or disease in our own and other
cultures, raising particular questions concerning the mind/body relationship.
It will suggest that perhaps a new vocabulary is needed to describe dis-ease
and its effects on a person’s well-being
Judith is a freelance journalist and editor of a national news agency.
After a career which included time as a foreign correspondent in various world
trouble-spots, from the Falklands War to Tiananmen Square, she began to
specialize in health and medicine, investigating illness and treatments in
other cultures, including China, Russia and the USA. Philosophy has been a
life-long preoccupation, encouraged by extra-mural courses at Oxford and
membership of several philosophical discussion groups. Exploring the power
of the mind has informed much of her thoughts and writings.
Marianne Talbot: Philosophical Problems that arise when caring for
someone with dementia
In dementia the mind fragments. It fragments in different ways, to different
programmes, depending on what sort of dementia you have. But all dementias are
characterised by cognitive decline, confusion and loss of memory. In caring
for a person for whom this is true this must be taken into account. It cannot
be taken into account once and for all, because the fragmentation is different
at different times. This prompts many philosophical problems, including many
moral problems. I shall discuss some of these during this talk.
Marianne Talbot, Keeping Mum: Caring for Someone with Dementia,
Hay House UK, 2011
Marianne Talbot, Bioethics: An Introduction, Cambridge University
Marianne Talbot has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at OUDCE since
2001. In 2017 she will have lectured for the colleges of the University of
Oxford for 30 years. She is delighted to find herself President of the
Philosophical Society, probably the largest (and certainly the best!) amateur
philosophy society in the UK.
Alexander Papadopoulos: Metaphysics and morality in mental
Psychiatry is at the intersection of natural sciences, social sciences, and
the humanities. Therefore, one cannot discuss mental health without discussing
issues arising in all of these domains. I will explore issues like
normativity, psychopathology, identity, and agency from a mental
health-inspired, philosophical perspective. Am I normal? Does depression
exist? Is realism the way to go in psychiatry? Is Platonic Justice relevant to
mental public health?
Alex is a post-graduate medical trainee in psychiatry at the University of
Lorraine, France. He also studies Public Health at graduate level at the
University of Liverpool. His dissertation is a qualitative study that explores
stigma in psychiatry from the perspective of family members of individuals
with schizophrenia. He is also studying Philosophy at undergraduate level at
the University of London, Birkbeck College. He is interested in metaphysics,
philosophy of mind, and political philosophy among others.
David Burridge: Healthy Society: Mental Health and Habit
It was Hume’s idea that we predict that something will occur in the future if
we have the experience of it happening in the past. I will argue that the
survival of human beings, just like with any other species of animals, lies in
the recognition that we operate our lives essentially through habit and that
the survival of the species depends on the quality and nature of those habits.
Reading: Eric Fromm, The Sane Society, Routledge Classics
David has been immersing himself in philosophy over the last 4 years since
he retired. Prior to that he had been an advocate in employment tribunals and
before that a Personal Director for the UK Operation of an international
company. David picked on philosophy because he says he likes to be adversarial
(in a Socratic sort of way). A recent brush with cancer taught David a lot
about the Philosophy of Health. David is a published poet and a passionate
European, being a fluent German speaker.
Fauzia Rahman-Greasley: Artificial Intelligence in Medicine: Could
machines replace clinicians?
Modern computers have more memory capacity than human brains and,
therefore, can process more information faster. Does this mean that a computer
could be better at clinical judgement than expert health-care professionals? I
will argue that the answer is to be found by understanding the relation
between facts, values and the concept of health alongside the practical
implications of patient consent.
Fauzia is a retired medical practitioner (qualified from St Barts, London)
with an MA in Philosophy (from Birkbeck, London). She is chairman of The
Philosophical Society and course director and regular lecturer of the Gerrards
Cross Philosophy group. She also enjoys play-writing (her farce ‘The
Philosopher’s Tale’ received critical acclaim following its premiere in Covent
Garden in 2013).