This site was established in 2012 as place to post occasionally about matters relating to philosophy of epidemiology. It’s recently become more active, prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has given rise to an interest in these topics along with a stream of interesting news and resources. These get shared here, and pushed to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. There are also some longer pieces.
We’re currently building two resources, one around COVID-19 material, the other around teaching philosophy of epidemiology and medicine. There has been a growing need to reorient the philosophy of medicine away from its focus on pharmaceuticals, medicine in and of the West, very narrow debates about the nature of health, and similarly narrow focus on evidence based medicine – all valid concerns, but in need of contextualising within a much broader landscape of different medical traditions, different medical activities aside from the administration of pharmaceuticals (e.g. nursing, epidemiology, anatomy, …), justice, prediction and not merely causation, the value of medicine beyond cure, and ultimately the connection between medicine and “big questions” about life, death and meaning.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease, not a chronic one. Its cause is clear, but its predictability is not. Rather than pharmaceuticals, ventilation is on the front line – the simple mechanical procedure at the heart of ICU, permitting the body to stay alive while getting to grips with the disease itself, which was invented by an ingenious anaesthetist. And when we talk of medical treatment for COVID-19, we are not referring to cure. From the perspective of those interested in thinking about medical science, this is an opportunity to reconfigure what we do and how we do it, and to do so for a good reason. Our collective confusion about disease have never been so starkly displayed, and if philosophers aim to alleviate confusion, there has never been a clearer route to doing so.