CaPiM – Causality and Probability in the Biomedical Sciences


1 December 2006
Darwin Conference Suite, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
(E5 on this map)


Causal inference is perhaps the most important form of reasoning in the biomedical sciences, but its foundations are very much up in the air. Probabilistic and statistical inference is used to help glean causal relationships from observed data and from experiments, but the relationship between causality and probability is by no means clear. Causal inferences in the biomedical sciences operate on the level of population, the individual, the molecule and the gene, for instance, yet the connections between these levels are hard to understand and model.

In this small and informal workshop we shall discuss some of the key questions concerning causality and probability in the biomedical sciences from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Registration is free, but space is strictly limited. Please email Federica Russo as soon as possible to confirm a place.


  • 10.30-11.00
    • Coffee
  • 11.00-12.30
    • Federica Russo, Philosophy, University of Kent: Interpreting causality in the health sciences. Slides: acrobat Paper: acrobat
    • Sophia Efstathiou, Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics: Articulating the causal influence of ‘race/ethnicity’ on health outcomes in social epidemiology and genetic epidemiology: implications for theory and practice. Slides:
  • 12.30-14.00
    • Lunch
  • 14.00-15.30
    • Sylvia Nagl, Department of Oncology, University College London: Rethinking causation for complex systems in biomedicine: challenges and new approaches. Slides:
    • Michael Joffe, Division of Epidemiology, Public Health and Primary Care, Imperial College London: Deterministic and stochastic causality. Slides:
  • 15.30-16.00
    • Coffee
  • 16.00-17.30
    • Pratik Chakrabarty, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Kent: Causality and Panacea: Institutionalisation of Medical Research in Colonial India. Slides:
    • John Worrall, Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, London School of Economics: Why there is no cause to randomise. Slides:
  • 17.30-18.30
    • Round table discussion: What are the key challenges that face causal-probabilistic inference in the biomedical sciences? To what extent do these challenges have analogues in other sciences.

Local Information

Canterbury is easily accessible by train from London (Charing Cross to Canterbury West station which is closest to the University; Victoria to Canterbury East station) and mainland Europe (Eurostar, change at Ashford). London Gatwick is the nearest airport. Directions are available here.

From London, the 08.55 train from Charing Cross arrives at Canterbury West at 10.24. Returning, the 19.17 train from Canterbury West arrives at Charing Cross at 21.05, or, to allow time for a bite to eat, the 21.13 train from Canterbury West arrives at Charing Cross at 23.07.

There are many hotels and guest houses within easy reach of the University. Consult Tourist information or Around Canterbury for general tourist information, and here for bargain hotel rates.

Internet access: to get internet access at the university (wireless access is limited), apply at Computing Service Reception (the fee is 10 pounds). Visitors from UK universities may be able to connect via Janet roaming. There is also an internet cafe in Canterbury.


This conference is organised by Federica Russo and Jon Williamson as a part of the project: Causality and the interpretation of probability in the social and health sciences.


We are very grateful to the British Academy for providing financial support.