[SydPhil] CFP: Workshop on defining the boundaries of disease

Jeanette Kennett jeanette.kennett at mq.edu.au
Tue Feb 10 11:32:11 AEDT 2015

A two-day multi-disciplinary workshop will be held at Macquarie University,
Sydney, on October 15-16, 2015. This workshop brings together scholars in
the philosophy of medicine together with practicing clinicians in
discussing just where, and why, the boundaries of disease should be set.


Wendy Rogers (Macquarie University)
Mary Walker (Macquarie University)

*Confirmed participants:*

Wendy Craig (Department of Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary)
Jenny Doust (Centre for Research in Evidence-based Practice, Bond
Wendy Rogers (Philosophy Department and Australian School of Advanced
Medicine, Macquarie University)
Thomas Schramme (Department of Philosophy, University of Hamburg)
Mary Walker (Philosophy Department, Macquarie University)

Questions relating to what should and should not be counted as disease, and
where exactly the boundary between disease and non-disease should lie, are
critical to the provision of appropriate health care. However, these
questions have become increasingly complex with changes in medical
knowledge and diagnostic technologies. The distinction between risk factor
and disease has become blurred; common diseases have been redefined
expansively (e.g. type 2 diabetes or chronic kidney disease); and
sophisticated diagnostic tests now detect abnormalities which may or may
not have pathological implications.

Responding to these questions requires engaging with medical and scientific
knowledge and with the philosophical literature on disease definition. But
these are not merely interesting academic questions: there are serious
practical implications to setting disease boundaries. Where is the ‘right’
place for these boundaries, such that patients receive appropriate
treatments to avoid excess morbidity and mortality, while avoiding the
harms of overdiagnosis and overtreatment?

We invite papers that engage with questions relating to the boundaries of
disease. We are particularly interested in papers that engage with:

·      the distinction between disease and risk factor. This distinction is
appealed to and/or contested in discussions about conditions such as raised
blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia or obesity.

·      determining the level of dysfunction at which abnormalities are, or
should be, declared diseases.

*Contact: Mary Walker <mary.walker at mq.edu.au> (mary.walker at mq.edu.au
<mary.walker at mq.edu.au>)Abstract due date: 30 April 2015*

Professor Jeanette Kennett FAHA
Head of Department
Faculty of Arts
Macquarie University
NSW 2109

tel: +61 2 9850 6773
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