My research is on the history and philosophy of the life sciences, particularly in medicine. While integrated history and philosophy of physics, biology, economics and chemistry all have well-developed research programmes, history and philosophy of medicine lags behind. Given the extent and influence of medical practice, this absence of an integrated approach is strange, particularly when there exist substantial research programmes in both history, and analytic philosophy, of medicine . However, these disciplines rarely intersect. It is in this neglected intersection that I situate this application, following Hasok Chang’s argument that ‘…philosophical questions about science and historical questions about science are co-extensive to a considerable degree.’ (Chang 2004: 239).
I am currently working to develop an integrated history and philosophy of medicine approach to medical practices. Three major examples of this research are as follows. Firstly, I'm currently working on the history and philosophy of cancers caused by viruses, with the intention of publishing a book in 2013. This work develops historical issues from my PhD thesis, but attempts to understand viral oncogenesis in much more general terms. Rather than dealing with a small number of specific cases, as previously, I am studying the various elements of this subject in a comparative way.
Secondly, and developing my earlier research on causality, I have been engaged in a project that deals with evidence-based medicine. Titled Mechanisms and the evidence hierarchy, this AHRC-funded project is working to develop a novel account of evidence that is suitable for medical practice. Here, I am particularly responsible for liaising with medical practitioners, and in planning public engagement events. You can find more information about the project on the Mechanisms and the evidence hierarchy project webpage; you can also read a short paper on the data-evidence distinction.
Finally, I'm interested in representations in the biomedical sciences. One specific example of this ongoing research deals with the representative practices of the anatomist, artist and surgeon Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842). This project aims to understand representations as one component of research practice amongst many. You can find more information on the project page.
Previous conference papers
The Epstein-Barr virus, Burkitt's lymphoma, and the development of the herpes heuristic.
Slides [387kb PDF]
Cervical cancer: a tale of two viruses.
Invited seminar at the Institute of Cancer Research 21st June 2012.
Slides [350kb PDF]
What is Life?
Synthesis exchange laboratory 4th-9th July 2011. UCL.
British Society for the History of Science annual conference 14th-17th July 2011. University of Exeter.
Abstract [259kB PDF]
Produced in collaboration with Chiara Ambrosio
Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL
Sixth Annual UK Workshop on Integrated History and Philosophy of Science. Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 18th April 2011.
Charles Bell at UCL: Medical Images, Representative Practices and the Aims of Integrated HPS
Produced in collaboration with Chiara Ambrosio
Classifications of melanoma
Clarke_SPSP2011_abstract [252kB PDF]
Teaching and Making Mechanisms
What is HPS for? Fifth Joint Workshop on Integrated History and Philosophy of Science. 28th-29th June 2010.
Making Mechanisms: McArdle's Syndrome
Progress in Medicine Conference. 13th-15th April 2010.
Causation and Melanoma Classification
Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable. 19th-20th October 2009.
Mechanisms, Causation and the Russo-Williamson Thesis
Can Mechanism plus Statistical Relevance add up to ‘Good Enough’ Causation?”
Inverting the Pyramid: A Reassessment of the Roles of Experiment in Evidence-Based Medicine
Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice Conference. 20th June 2009.
Agency and Manipulability Causation: What's the Difference in Practice?
Leeds-Durham-Exeter-UCL HPS Workshop "Theory and Practice". 1st June 2009.
Cancer Risk Factors 1966-2006: Causation or Correlation?
&HPS2 conference. 12th March 2009.
Causation in Medicine
Conference on Conceptual Revolutions. 6th March 2009.
Causation and Mechanism
UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies Work in Progress Seminar. 26th February 2009.
Philosophy of Science and Medicine: Mechanism, Reduction and Homeostasis
UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies PhD Student Open Day. 26th November 2008.
A Parallel Literature: Causation in Medicine
Causality and Probability in the Sciences conference. 12th September 2008
McArdle's Disease; or, Causation without Statistics?
The Interplay of Statistics and Research into Mechanisms in Establishing Causal Claims in Medicine workshop. 23rd July 2008.
Causation and Medicine: Postulates and Pluralism?
British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference. 11th July 2008.
The Role of Plausibility in Biomedical Causation
STS Annual Research Day Seminar. 20th May 2008
What is a Cause?
UCL/NIMR Student Seminar Day. 7th May 2008.