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Research Unit on the Philosophy of Biomedicine, Health Professions, and Public Health Sciences


This unit studies the central questions in theory of science, ethics, and politics that arise in connection with medicine, health, and health practice. The research bears on, among others, the articulation of the concepts of disease and  the development of diagnostics, the requirement of an evidence-based medical and clinical practice (including the relation between qualitative and quantitative evidence), the altered understanding of the human body in light of biotechnological and neuroscientific development, ethical questions in relation to health promotion, health enhancement, our understanding of autonomy and justice in light of altered relations among health professionals, patients, and the state.

The unit strengthens a national and international research collaboration developed during the past 40 years, including an extensive collaboration with what is now the Faculty of Health at Aarhus University. In collaboration with the Center for Humanistic Health Research, the unit provides the research basis for teaching in philosophy and theory of science in connection with a number of programmes at the Faculty of Health. Finally, the unit pursues an extensive research collaboration, both nationally and internationally, with a number of health institutions and research centers.

Events Fall 2021

1October, 15.15 – 17.0

Jacob Stegenga (University of Cambridge) & Tarum Menon (National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru): “Sisyphean Science: Why Value Freedom Is Worth Pursuing”


The value-free ideal in science has been criticised as both unattainable and undesirable. We argue that it can be defended as a practical principle guiding scientific research even if the unattainability and undesirability of a value-free end-state are granted. If a goal is unattainable, then one can separate the desirability of accomplishing the goal from the desirability of pursuing it. The state with the ideal degree of value involvement cannot be given an independent characterisation, and cannot serve as an action-guiding target, so it can only reliably be attained if scientists treat value-freedom as their goal. The challenges to the value-free ideal have been most prominent in applied scientific domains such as medicine, and we illustrate some of our arguments with examples from medicine.

22October, 15.15 – 17.0

Miriam Solomon (Temple University): “On Pluralism in Psychiatry”


I have argued that pluralism about methods and/or theories is good for science, because it can increase empirical success, but bad for scientific authority, because it hinders consensus. Psychiatry has been dominated by a single conceptual framework for the last forty years (the DSM framework) and enjoyed considerable professional authority. Because of the “crisis of validity,” this dominance has recently given way to a pluralist situation in which several different approaches to disease nosology are being developed. In addition to the DSM framework, there is the RDoC program, the HiTOP framework, the network approach, the mechanistic property cluster approach, and others. My talk will explore the challenges and difficulties of working with pluralism in psychiatry, making constructive suggestions for future research.


The following members of the programme participate regularly to the activities organized by the unit. Most activities are open to those interested. Please, contact the unit coordinator for further information.

Unit Coordinator