The biennial meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association and the annual meeting of the History of Science Society took place in Chicago on 6-9 November 2014. Quite some interesting work has been presented there — let me just mention two sessions on the history of interdisciplinarity and on on the philosophy of interdisciplinarity (for the combined programme of the two meetings see here). I myself contributed to the second.

I presented a paper on the integration of social factors in the aetiology of diseases (especially non-communicable diseases). This is joint work with Mike Kelly and Rachel Kelly. Listen to this short interview of Mike and you’ll easily realise why it is important to reflect on what it means to have a mixed aetiology for disesases that are not ‘biologically communicable’ but are instead socially communicable (as it as been suggested in the Q&A after my talk). We argue in the paper that it is not sufficient to include socio-economic-behavioural factors in an epidemiological analysis, as mere ‘classificatory’ devices. These factors play an active role in aetiology and we need a concept of ‘mixed mechanism’ to account for that.

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