A Pandemic Ethics Book Club with the General Public (guest post by Jesse Hamilton)

“If philosophy is to thrive, it must be sensitive and responsive to the world it is meant to engage with. The non-philosophers in our reading group shed light on a world that may be difficult for us philosophers to see and point out aspects of  lived experiences that we may not have access to.” In the following guest post*, Jesse Hamilton, a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about a novel way to bridge the gap between academic philosophy and the general public. A Pandemic Ethics Book Club with the General Public by Jesse Hamilton Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. -Karl Marx, Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach I am a Ph.D. student studying moral and political philosophy, and I know a moral dilemma when I see one. I am also an Iraq War veteran who knows what it is like to be on the front lines and live with the consequences of my moral decisions. The pandemic has put us all on the front lines of a morally murky world and left the general public with questions about what they ought to do. The University of Pennsylvania Philosophy Department’s “Pandemic Ethics” Book Club attempts to help them answer those questions. Engaging with the general public on topical moral and political issues is vital in a liberal democracy. Moreover, if there was ever a time when our communities needed this type of engagement, it is now. But this initiative aspires to do more than than just deliberate about a topical issue. Our current book club is the first step in a series of public reading groups that aim to bridge the gap between academic philosophy and the general public. The mission is simple: Bring together a diverse group of graduate students and philosophy professors with a diverse group of people outside of academia and discuss topics of philosophical interest. Accessible philosophy writing is critical to public engagement. Our group is  currently  reading  Pandemic Ethics by Ben Bramble (ANU) and holds weekly meetings over Zoom. We have twenty-five total participants—five philosophers and twenty non-philosophers. The philosophers contribute the theoretical perspective and lead the breakout room discussions. The non-philosophers are a diverse group of working … Continue reading A Pandemic Ethics Book Club with the General Public (guest post by Jesse Hamilton)