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Philosophy and History of Medicine
Unit guide and reader2008-9
Philosophy and History of Medicine
(PHIL 30080/30082)Unit Director
Michael Bresalier
Department of Philosophyemail: plmcb@bris.ac.uk Office: B7 - 7 Woodland RoadOffice hours: Wednesday, Thursday, 3-4pm
Guest Lecturers
Alexander Bird (Philosophy)Havi Carel (UWE)Andrew Morrice (Homeopathy Hospital)Trevor Thompson (Primary Care)
Unit Objectives
Every society has developed healing practices and systems in response to human suffering andillness. Yet, medical ways of knowing are historically, socially and culturally contingent. Farfrom being a single, unified system of knowledge, medicine has been made up of a variety of ways of knowing, which are often incommensurable with each other. Taking this contingencyand variety as its starting point, this unit surveys the “making” of modern medicine from theFrench Revolution to the AIDS pandemic. It explores some of the key epistemologicalframeworks of our medical world in their socio-historical context. It traces the creation in thenineteenth century of two new medical institutions, hospitals and laboratories, of new medicalprofessionals working in them, and of new causal understandings of disease. Turning to thetwentieth century, it then traces the formation of biomedicine and national health caresystems, and examines the problem of standardizing medical knowledge and practice throughthe clinical trial and evidence-based medicine. Throughout, the unit explores the tensionsbetween the increasing objectification of medicine and the subjective dimensions of doctors’knowledge and patients’ illness. Addressing the changing relationship between the doctor andpatient, science and medicine, and concepts of health and disease, the unit critically assessesthe nature and status of disease categories, medical expertise and medical knowledge.
Mondays at 4pm starting 6 October (3F9 8 Woodland Road; entry via 12a PrioryRoad); additional Thursday lectures (LT2 11 Woodland Road)
Mondays at 1-2 pm; 2-3pm starting 13 October (G65, 15 Woodland Road)
 3F9 8 Woodland RoadMondays 4-5pmLT2 11 Woodland RoadThursdays 2-3pm (23,30 Oct; 13 Nov)
G65 15 Woodland RdMondaysGroup1: 1-2pmGroup2: 2-3pm
 Approaches to the History and Philosophy of Medicine
Week 16 October3:00 Introduction4:15 – Ways of knowingNo seminarWeek 213 OctoberConcepts of Health andDiseaseSeminar – Ways of Knowing
Making Modern Medicine
Week 320 October23 OctoberBirth of the ClinicDefining DoctorsSeminar – Concepts of Health and DiseaseWeek 427 October30 OctoberLaboratory RevolutionExperimental BodiesSeminar – Birth of theClinic
Rationalizing Medicine
*Week 5
 Assignment I -Book review 
3 NovemberBiomedicine andnational health systemsSeminar – Laboratory Revolution/AnimalModelsWeek 610 November13 NovemberRCT: Gold Standard orFool’s GoldEvidence-BasedMedicine and the Pitfallsof StandardizationSeminar – Biomedicine*Week 7
 Assignment II –Formative essay 
17 NovemberManaging UncertaintySeminar – RCT/EBM
Challenging Orthodoxies
Week 824 November27 NovemberHomeopathy andHeterodox MedicinePatients and the Politicsof Medical KnowledgeSeminar - Uncertainty Week 91 DecemberMedicine and DeathSeminar - PatientsWeek 108 DecemberConclusionsSeminar - DeathWeek 1112 JanuaryRevisionNo seminar
Philosophy lectures
Students who wish to study more closely basic concepts in philosophy can audit units in theDepartment of Philosophy. Units of particular relevance: PHIL10005: Introduction toPhilosophy and PHIL20034: Realism. Please speak with the directors of the respective units.

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