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EGENIS seminar: "Are continuity claims a challenge to medical classification?", Prof Lara Keuck (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science) and Dr Ariane Hanemaayer (Brandon University)

Egenis seminar series

The boundaries of many disease categories are contested: when does Covid end? What should count in the Autism Spectrum? When does Alzheimer’s Disease begin? In our collaborative research we combine historical, philosophical and sociological perspectives to examine the role of continuity claims—such as that of a continuity between states of health and disease—in these debates. Continuity is often depicted as the opposite of categorical thinking, and therefore as a challenge to the validity of medical classification. However, we want to argue that the relationship between continuity claims and disease categories is more heterogenous and complex; up to the point that continuity claims can stabilize existing structures and, indeed, save contested categories.

Event details

In our presentation, we first distinguish different types of continuity claims about disease categories in two case studies, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. Second, we scrutinize the work continuity claims do, in particular regarding the revision processes of medical classifications. Finally, we will turn to a more methodological conclusion about studying the intricate relationship between continuity claims and disease categories: while the humanities disciplines certainly share a common interest concerning continuity claims, the question of what exactly needs to be explained renders visible fundamental and, we think, epistemically productive, differences between historical, philosophical and sociological approaches.  

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