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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Tuesdays at 1pm – HPS Teams Channel 3.09 ('Philosophy of Medicine Reading Group')

Organisers: Anna Alexandrova, Stephen John and Tim Lewens. Please send any questions/comments to Stephen John (sdj22).

We meet each week to discuss papers in the Philosophy of Medicine, broadly construed. We are open to students and staff in HPS and other departments. Participants are expected to read papers before the session, although normally a session leader gives a short introduction to that week's reading.

Michaelmas Term 2020: Philosophers on the pandemic

This term, our papers are around the theme of philosophical responses to the Covid-19 pandemic: this includes discussions of modelling, of evidence, and ethics. There is obviously a good reason for this focus, but also a cost, that most writing is in the form of shorter opinion pieces or blogposts, rather than fully developed articles. Therefore, a recurrent theme will be what philosophers can or should say about such rapidly moving events. We discuss this topic explicitly in Week 6.

Week 1 (13 October): Models

Week 2 (20 October): Facemasks: expertise, science and uncertainty

Week 3 (27 October): Costs and benefits

Week 4 (3 November): Lockdown: the young and the old

  • Savulescu, J., & Cameron, J. (2020). 'Why lockdown of the elderly is not ageist and why levelling down equality is wrong.' Journal of Medical Ethics. (See also the reply by Jonathan Hughes.)

Week 5 (10 November): Lockdown: the young and the old (again)

Week 6 (17 November): Stay at home (philosophers)?

Week 7 (24 November): TBC based on group discussion

Week 8 (1 December): TBC based on group discussion