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Fast Medicine and Fallibility: Philosophical Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic (The Politics of Yellow Fever series)

Fri, Sep 25, 2020 | 12:00 pm

This talk is presented by Miriam Solomon, PhD, Professor and Interim Chair, Philosophy Department at Temple University.

Medical practice usually develops slowly, moving from basic research through three stages of clinical trials to guidelines, outcome evaluations, and revised guidelines. With COVID-19, researchers are being asked to speed up the process as much as possible in order to stem the pandemic. In the meantime, clinicians are working with interim guidelines, and often need to rely on their own clinical judgement to make treatment decisions. This talk will describe the challenges of such “fast medicine.” The current situation will be compared with the HIV epidemic, discussing Steve Epstein’s Impure Science (University of California Press, 1996) account of how ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) persuaded the scientific community to reconfigure clinical trials of antiviral treatments to address urgent needs. Epistemic humility—a nuanced understanding of our fallibility—is an attitude that is especially helpful in these circumstances.

This program will be presented via Zoom. Registration is encouraged. On the day of the program, use this link to join: https://temple.zoom.us/j/91971588235

This event is presented in conjunction with the Health Sciences Libraries online presentation of the Politics of Yellow Fever in Alexander Hamilton’s America exhibit sponsored by the National Library of Medicine. The exhibit was initially intended to make a stop at Temple University’s Ginsburg Health Sciences Library during September 2020. In light of the coronavirus pandemic traveling exhibits were paused.  The relevance of the topic to the current situation is clear and we decided to move ahead with a local virtual exhibit, workshops and speaker events.

Please contact Courtney Eger, courtney.eger@temple.edu, with any questions.