Book Series Philosophy (Outside a Series)

Epidemics and Pandemics

Philosophical Perspectives

Alessandro Palazzo, Michele Nicoletti (eds)

  • Pages: approx. 328 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:10 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59892-5
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59893-2
  • E-book
  • Available

This book is a multidisciplinary study of the history and vocabulary of epidemics and pandemics. It will provide the reader with philosophical tools to grasp the meaning and significance of the covid-19 crisis and future ones.


Epidemics, pandemics, contagion, immunity, social distance, zoonosis are just a few of the concepts that have become commonplace in the academic community and in everyday conversation since the outbreak of the Covid-19. This book aims to provide the reader with a philosophical guide to this conceptual vocabulary by investigating the meanings, implications, and history of words related to the current emergency of Covid-19.

This book addresses the fundamental anthropological, ethical, and political issues that have come under the spotlight of the public debate (life and death, freedom and authority, fear and protection, poverty and access to medical care). In this context, particular attention is given to the conflict between the scientific discourse on the one hand, and irrational bias, misinformation and fake news on the other.

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak is only the latest episode in a long history of pandemics and epidemics that have constellated human history since its very beginning. Authoritative accounts have made some of these contagious plagues famous (Thucydides’ pages immortalizing the Athenian epidemic of the 5th century B.C.; Boccaccio’s description of the Black Death; Manzoni’s depiction of the Plague ravaging 17th-century Milan). Because a full understanding of the present is not possible without historical inquiry, several contributions in the book explore debates about calamitous phenomena as documented in philosophical literature from Antiquity to 20th-century philosophy.


Naomi Zack, Epidemics and Pandemics: Philosophical Perspectives. What's Philosophy Got to Do with It?

Michele Nicoletti, Alessandro Palazzo, Introduction

Part I. History of a Problem

Mauro Bonazzi,  Thucydides and the Politics of the Plague

Marco Di Branco, Between Religion and Science. The Debate on the Concept of Contagion in the Medieval Islamic World and its Western Parallels

Alessandro Palazzo, Pestilences and Contagious Diseases in the Middle Ages. Albert the Great and the Fourteenth-Century Plague Treatises

Diana Di Segni, Latin-into-Hebrew Treatises on the Black Death

Concetta Pennuto,  Contagion and Pandemics. Plague in Early Modern Medical Thought

Mariangela Priarolo, New Sciences and Old Diseases. Seventeenth-Century Readings of the Causes of the Plague

Fabrizio Meroi, Contagion and Epidemics in Twentieth-Century Thought. A Hypothesis about Bergson

Part II. Concepts and Theories

Carlo Brentari,  Zoonosis

Michele Nicoletti, Fear and Dispossession

Nidesh Lawtoo, The Mimetic Faculty Reloaded: Contagion, Immunization, Conspiracies in the Age of Viral Reproduction

L'udmila Lacková, Crisis of the Subject in Mediated Communication

Federico Laudisa, The Epistemology of Models in the Era of Pandemic

Pejman Abdolmohammadi, The COVID-19 Pandemic. An Exogenous Shock into Political Systems in the Middle East and North Africa?

Michele Nicoletti, Alessandro Palazzo, Conclusion