Clarke, Brendan

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

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Medical students: integrated BSc Open Day 

Visit our table at the integrated BSc Open Day on 21 January 2015

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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).

Current projects

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.

Three Societies Meeting 12th July 2012. University of Pennsylvania.

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.

Revisiting Charles Bell’s Medical Images: A Plurality of Representative Practices

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

3rd Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice
University of Exeter
22nd—24th June 2011

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.

Egenis, University of Exeter. / Slides [934kb PDF]

Making Mechanisms: McArdle's Syndrome

Progress in Medicine Conference. 13th-15th April 2010.

University of Bristol. / Abstract [223kb PDF] / Slides [827kb PDF]

I'd like to thank Carl Pappenheim for his invaluable assistance with this project.

Causation and Melanoma Classification

Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable. 19th-20th October 2009.

EIPE / Abstract [160kb PDF] / Paper [460kb PDF]

Mechanisms, Causation and the Russo-Williamson Thesis

Mechanisms and Causality in the Sciences conference. 9th September 2009. University of Kent, Canterbury. / Abstract [85kb PDF] / Slides [981 kb PDF]

Can Mechanism plus Statistical Relevance add up to ‘Good Enough’ Causation?”

British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference. 14th July 2009. University of East Anglia. / Abstract [82kb PDF] / Slides [198kb PDF]

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.

University of Minnesota / Abstract [79kb PDF] / Slides [448 kb PDF]

Agency and Manipulability Causation: What's the Difference in Practice?

Leeds-Durham-Exeter-UCL HPS Workshop "Theory and Practice". 1st June 2009.

University of Durham / Slides [399kb PDF]

Cancer Risk Factors 1966-2006: Causation or Correlation?

&HPS2 conference. 12th March 2009.

University of Notre Dame / Abstract [120kb PDF]

Causation in Medicine

Conference on Conceptual Revolutions. 6th March 2009.

Universidad de A Coruña. / Slides [404kb PDF]

Causation and Mechanism

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies Work in Progress Seminar. 26th February 2009.

UCL. / Slides [573kb PDF]

Philosophy of Science and Medicine: Mechanism, Reduction and Homeostasis

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies PhD Student Open Day. 26th November 2008.

UCL. / Slides [149kb PDF]

A Parallel Literature: Causation in Medicine

Causality and Probability in the Sciences conference. 12th September 2008

University of Kent, Canterbury. / Abstract [42kb PDF].  / Slides [287kb PDF]

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.

University of Kent, Canterbury. / Slides [435kb PDF]

Causation and Medicine: Postulates and Pluralism?

British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference. 11th July 2008.

University of St. Andrews. / Abstract [42kb PDF]. / Slides [287kb PDF]

The Role of Plausibility in Biomedical Causation

STS Annual Research Day Seminar. 20th May 2008

UCL / Abstract [36kb PDF] / Slides [566kb PDF]

What is a Cause?

UCL/NIMR Student Seminar Day. 7th May 2008.

UCL / Abstract [22kb PDF] / Slides [921kb PDF]

Page last modified on 09 aug 13 16:38 by Brendan Clarke

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