Self-Knowledge In and Out of Illness

May 3, 2016 - May 4, 2016
King's College London

Guy's Campus
United Kingdom

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Philosophy & Medicine Symposium: Self-Knowledge In and Out of Illness

Self-knowledge has always played a role in health care since a person needs to be able to accurately assess her body or behaviour in order to determine whether to seek medical help. But more recently it has come to play a larger role, as health care has moved from a more paternalistic model to one where the patient is expected to take charge of her health; as we realized that early detection, and hence self-examination, can play a crucial role in outcomes; as medical science improves and makes more terminal illnesses into chronic conditions requiring self-management; as genetic testing makes it possible to have more information about our futures; and with the advent of personal electronic devices that make it easy for a person to gather accurate real-time information about her body.

It can be hard to get good information about oneself, and even harder to know what to do it. Sometimes self-knowledge is needed for a good outcome, but sometimes it is useless, or worse. Breast self-examination can lead to over-treatment, learning that one has a predisposing gene can create a detrimental illusion of knowing more about the future than one does, and data about one’s vital signs can be meaningless if taken out of a context of interpretation. We look at how these and other issues play out in a variety of medical contexts.

Venue: Greenwood Lecture Theatre & Harris Lecture Theatre (Hodgkin Building), Guy’s Campus, King's College London.

Time: From Tuesday 03 May 2016 09:00 to Wednesday 04 May 2016 17:00.

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Tuesday 3 May 2016 09:00-17:30 – Greenwood Lecture Theatre
- Tony David, IoPPN, King's College London:
Self-reflection in illness and health – literal and metaphorical?
- Nick Shea, King's College London:
Metacognition for acting and deciding together
- Fiona Johnson, University College London:
Self-Perception of weight: Is a little knowledge a dangerous thing?
- Matthew Hotopf, IoPPN, King's College London:
Big data, Big Brother and the internet of things: the challenges of implementing mobile health
- Paul Norman, Universtity of Sheffield:
Psychological aspects of Breast Self-examination
- Quassim Cassam, University of Warwick:
Self-knowledge in diagnosis and self-diagnosis
- Fiona Cowdell and Judith Dyson, University of Hull:
Skin self-examination
- Reception, all in attendance are welcome

Wednesday 4 May 2016 09:00-17:00 – Harris Lecture Theatre, Hodgkin Building
- Christine Patch, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals:
Genetic screening: tales from the real world
- Sherri Roush, King's College London:
Hypochondria and self-re-calibration
- Sacha Golob, King's College London:
Self-cultivation and self-knowing: knowledge as style
- Veronika Williams, University of Oxford:
“I just know” – experiences of self-managing acute exacerbations in COPD
- Havi Carel, University of Bristol:
Self-knowledge in illness
- Tim Holt, University of Oxford:
Sailing close to the wind: models and metaphors for the self-management of diabetes

For programme updates please visit:

The event is free and open to the public. No advance booking required.

CALL FOR PAPERS The newly launched interdisciplinary journal Palgrave Communications will publish a special issue based on the symposium. The content of the publication will not be limited to the content of the symposium, but is open to all. We therefore warmly invite all researchers working on the topic of the symposium to submit their articles to be considered for publication in this special issue. Please, see the official Call for Papers for further information:

The event is hosted by Philosophy & Medicine, a joint venture between King’s Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, and The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery with generous support from the Peter Sowerby Foundation. Find more to do at:

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