International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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TUESDAY, JULY 7  /  11:00 - 12:30  /  DS-1540
Organized session / diverse format
Diagnostic accuracy: A productive meeting point for scientific practice and humanities research

Nicholas Binney (University of Exter, United Kingdom)


Paola Hernández Chávez (Centro de Estudios Filosóficos, Políticos y Sociales Vicente Lombardo Toledano, Mexico)
Mike Kelly (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Nicholas Binney (University of Exter, United Kingdom)
Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide, Australia)

Disease classification and diagnostic decision making have provided a focus for research in the humanities. However, the methods used by practitioners to evaluate the accuracy of diagnoses have attracted little attention. This is a shame, particularly as researchers in clinical practice have commented that the “theory and methodology of diagnostic research still lags substantially behind that into the effectiveness of treatment”. The purpose of this session is to draw attention to diagnostic accuracy as a topic worthy of close scrutiny, and as a fertile area for the interaction of humanities scholars and researchers from scientific and medical practice.

The session is comprised of three presentations by researchers with close links to scientific and medical practice, followed by a commentary from Rachel Ankeny. The first speaker, Paola Hernández Chávez, works closely with cognitive neuroscientists, and will highlight areas of potential diagnostic difficulty in brain imaging studies. She will argue that identifying and distinguishing different sources of diagnostic difficulty is valuable to the study of the human brain. The second speaker, Mike Kelly, will draw on his experience of producing diagnostic guidelines to argue that philosophical and sociological insights can help illuminate the epistemological status of diagnostic categories and the social process of diagnosis. The final speaker, Nick Binney, originally trained as a veterinary surgeon, will argue that the historical development of diagnostic practices is relevant to their evaluation in the present day.