Philosophical Perspectives on COVID-19

May 12, 2021
The Institute for the Future of Knowledge, University of Johannesburg

Virtual Event
Auckland Park Campus
South Africa


University of Johannesburg
University of Johannesburg

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CFA: Philosophical Perspectives on COVID-19

The journal Philosophy of Medicineand the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg will host an online conference on 12 May 2021 to provide a forum for exploratory philosophical work on COVID-19.

The year 2020 will be remembered for the most lethal pandemic since 1918-1919 Spanish Flu. Over 100 million novel coronavirus cases have been reported since COVID-19 was first discovered late in 2019 in Wuhan, China, with nearly 2.5 million recorded deaths. Hundreds of countries implemented unprecedented ‘lockdown’ restrictions to control the spread of the virus, resulting in the closure of many businesses, a rapid increase in unemployment rates, and widespread disruptions to health services, from vaccination programmes and HIV testing, to cancer treatments. However, not everyone has seen the disease in the same way. There were less than a million more global deaths from all causes in 2020 than in 2019, which is on trend for the annual increase in global deaths for the last few years. Persistent sceptical voices have raised numerous criticisms of the way the world has responded, arguing in various ways that the response has been disproportionate, has unfairly shifted the burden of disease or indirect health effects from wealthier to poorer people and regions, has not been rational, or has been driven by fear rather than analysis. Remarkably, within 18 months of the emergence of the virus, multiple effective vaccines have been developed. However, many countries in the developing world are struggling to procure sufficient vaccines to provide herd immunity, and the actual impact of the vaccine on COVID-19 “in the wild” remains to be seen, with the discovery of new variants suggesting that it might prove an elusive target.

Healthcare professionals were the undisputed heroes of 2020, but what do philosophers have to say about this pandemic, and what can they contribute to the global fight against this deadly disease, and the indirect consequences of the interventions governments have imposed?

Participants are invited to submit papers concerning any philosophical topic relating to Covid-19—for example, but not limited to:

·         Public Health Policy: To lockdown or not to lockdown?

·         Role of expertise in public decision-making

·         Democracy and Emergency

·         Values in Science

·         Evidence-Based Policy and Public Health Emergencies

·         Epidemiology: Aims, Methods, Confusions

·         Epistemology and Modeling

·         Biomedical Ethics

·         The Precautionary Principle

·         Allocation of Biomedical Research Resources and “Well-Ordered Science”

·         Equity and Access to Healthcare

·         Global Perspectives on Covid-19

·         The Role of Philosophy in Public Debate

The deadline for submissions is March 15th, 2021. Notice of acceptance can be expected within 2-3 weeks. All submissions should include the name of the applicant and the institution with which they are affiliated. Abstracts not longer than 300 words should be sent to [email protected].

The full version of accepted papers will be considered for a special edition of Philosophy of Medicine.

Organised by Benjamin Smart and Alex Broadbent.

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Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
University of Johannesburg
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