Lots of people in Africa have already been infected with SARS-Cov-2. Good news, if frustrating for those of us predicting this since March https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/pandemic-appears-have-spared-africa-so-far-scientists-are-struggling-explain-why


Lockdown was never right for Africa. Half the population is 19 or under, highlighted in this report; and known prior to COVID, of course. On the cost side of the balance sheet, other risks are massively dominant over that posed by COVID-19. Living conditions mean that suppression was never achievable in any case. Costs of lockdown were obviously going to be horrific, because recession means starvation in contexts of poverty. What a mess for those countries that did lock down. And those that didn’t seem to be doing fine, COVID-wise: e.g. Malawi, whose supreme court prevented the government from locking down.

Aside from all that, it’s clear that there’s a great deal of uncertainty about why some places get hit so much harder than others by COVID-19. Sweden is held up as being hit hard, and blamed; but that ignores the fact that many other European countries that did lock down were hit a lot harder. Why? I favour the following theory: we don’t know.

Epistemic humility in all matters relating to medicine is always appropriate.

Philosophy of Medicine publication date

My forthcoming book Philosophy of Medicine will be available 2 Jan 2019.



“The first thing to love about this book is what you can learn from it: what medicine can do even if it can’t cure much, what evidence-based medicine may have achieved and what it may not have, the role of common law and the importance of cosmopolitanism, the dangers of epistemic medical relativism, a value-free definition of ‘health’ and much more. The second is that it practices what it preaches. The epistemic humility and practice-centered cosmopolitanism that Broadbent advocates for medicine characterize his own arguments and explanations. The book is thoughtful, humane, informed, a serious study, both philosophically and practically.” – Nancy Cartwright, Professor of Philosophy at Durham University and Distinguished Professor at University of California, San Diego

“Alex Broadbent’s Philosophy of Medicine addresses important topics that have been largely eclipsed by debates on bioethics and the nature of health and disease. In particular, Broadbent focuses on the core issues of what medicine is essentially and how to make medical decisions. His book makes significant contributions to the field not only by addressing neglected topics with historical and cultural sensitivity, but also through some ground-breaking claims, for instance that the business of medicine is not to cure.” – Thaddeus Metz, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg


Philosophy of Medicine asks two central questions about medicine: what is it, and what should we think of it? Philosophy of medicine itself has evolved in response to developments in the philosophy of science, especially with regard to epistemology, positioning it to make contributions that are medically useful. This book locates these developments within a larger framework, suggesting that much philosophical thinking about medicine contributes to answering one or both of these two guiding questions.

Taking stock of philosophy of medicine’s present place in the landscape and its potential to illuminate a wide range of areas, from public health to policy, Alex Broadbent introduces various key topics in the philosophy of medicine. The first part of the book argues for a novel view of the nature of medicine, arguing that medicine should be understood as an inquiry into the nature and causes of health and disease. Medicine excels at achieving understanding, but not at translating this understanding into cure, a frustration that has dogged the history of medicine and continues to the present day.

The second part of the book explores how we ought to consider medicine. Contemporary responses, such as evidence-based medicine and medical nihilism, tend to respond by fixing high standards of evidence. Broadbent rejects these approaches in favor of Medical Cosmopolitanism, or a rejection of epistemic relativism and pluralism about medicine that encourages conversations between medical traditions. From this standpoint, Broadbent opens the way to embracing alternative medicine.

An accessible and user-friendly guide, Philosophy of Medicine puts these different debates into perspective and identifies areas that demand further exploration.

Table of Contents

Part A. What Is Medicine?
1. Varieties of Medicine
2. The Goal of Medicine
3. The Business of Medicine
4. Health and Disease

Part B. What Should We Think of Medicine?
5. Evidence-Based Medicine
6. Medical Nihilism
7. Medical Cosmopolitanism
8. Alternatives and Medical Dissidence
9. Decolonizing Medicine

See more and pre-order at https://global.oup.com/academic/product/philosophy-of-medicine-9780190612139