Department of Philosophy

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Paul Fairfield’s two new edited collections—Relational Hermeneutics: Essays in Comparative Philosophy and Hermeneutics and Phenomenology: Figures and Themes—are now published by Bloomsbury. Both books are co-edited with Saulius Geniusas.

Investigating connections between philosophical hermeneutics and neighbouring traditions of thought, Relational Hermeneutics considers the question of how post-Heideggerian hermeneutics, as represented by Gadamer, Ricoeur and recent scholars following in their wake, relate to these traditions, both in general terms and bearing upon specific questions. The traditions covered in this volume—existentialism, pragmatism, poststructuralism, Eastern philosophy, and hermeneutics itself—are all characterized by significant internal diversity, adding to the difficulty in reaching an interpretation that is at once comparative and critical.Relational Hermeneutics cover Hermeneutics and Phenomenology cover

Hermeneutics and Phenomenology shows that the relationship between these two central theoretical and philosophical approaches is more complex and interesting than our standard story might suggest. It is not always clear how hermeneutics—that is, post-Heideggerian hermeneutics as articulated by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and a large number of thinkers working under their influence—regards the phenomenological tradition, be it in its Husserlian or various post-Husserlian formulations. This volume inquires into this issue both in general, conceptual terms and through specific analyses into questions of ontology and metaphysics, science, language, theology, and imagination. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sergio Sismondo's new book Ghost-Managed Medicine explores a spectral side of medical knowledge, based in pharmaceutical industry tactics and practices. The book is published both in paperback and as an open-access text, which means that you can download it for free at the Press's website.

Hidden from the public view, the many invisible hands of the pharmaceutical industry and its agents channel streams of drug information and knowledge from contract research organizations (that extract data from experimental bodies) to publication planners (who produce ghostwritten medical journal articles) to key opinion leaders (who are sent out to educate physicians about drugs) to patient advocacy organizations (who ventriloquize views on diseases, treatments and regulations), and onward. The goal of this ‘assemblage marketing’ is to establish conditions that make specific diagnoses, prescriptions and purchases as obvious and frequent as possible. While staying in the shadows, companies create powerful markets in which increasing numbers of people become sick and the drugs largely sell themselves.

The claims that agents of the pharmaceutical industry make are drawn from streams of knowledge that have been fed, channeled and maintained by the companies at every possible opportunity. Especially because those companies have concentrated influence and narrow interests, consumers and others should be concerned about how epistemic power is distributed – or ‘political economies of knowledge’ – and not just about truth and falsity of medical knowledge.

 

 

 

 

Recent PhD student Kyle Johannsen has just published a revised version of his dissertation as a book, A Conceptual Investigation of Justice.

Kyle calls for renewed attention to the manner in which the word ‘justice’ is and should be used. Focusing on the late work of G.A. Cohen, Kyle argues that debates over both the content and scope of egalitarian justice are, to a large extent, really just conceptual. Whereas some philosophers have been using the term ‘justice’ to refer to one among a plurality of values, others have been using it to refer to institutional rightness. Though the latter use of ‘justice’ is presently more dominant, he argues that much is to be gained from thinking of justice as one value among many. Doing so sheds light on the nature of both democracy and legitimacy, and, paradoxically, makes better sense of the idea that justice is ‘the first virtue of institutions’. 

Kyle did his dissertation working with Christine Sypnowich. He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Trent University.

 

 

 

 

cover of Equality RenewedChristine Sypnowich's book Equality Renewed: Justice, Flourishing, and the Egalitarian Ideal, has come out in paperback. Christine proposes a theory of equality centred on human flourishing or wellbeing. She argues that egalitarianism should be understood as seeking to make people more equal in the constituents of a good life. Inequality is a social ill because of the damage it does to human flourishing: unequal distribution of wealth can have the effect that some people are poorly housed, badly nourished, ill-educated, unhappy or uncultured, among other things. When we seek to make people more equal our concern is not just resources or property, but how people fare under one distribution or another. Ultimately, the best answer to the question, ‘equality of what?,’ is some conception of flourishing, since whatever policies or principles we adopt, it is flourishing that we hope will be more equal as a result of our endeavours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year Carlos Prado also edited a volume entitled, America's Post-Truth Phenomenon, with several members of the Department among the contributors. Deception in politics is nothing new, but the quantity of unsubstantiated statements in America today is unprecedented. False notions, fake news, "alternative facts," and opinions are being pitched from sources including the White House, Congress, and the American population via Twitter, Facebook, and online news sites as well as print, television, and radio. Such a widespread spectacle instantly captures the attention of people nationwide, but disagreement has the nation almost bordering on civil war over the definition of "the truth" and what this book calls "post-truth."

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