COVID-19 and the philosopher

By Vittorio Bufacchi

COVID-19 and the philosopher


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5876-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: June 2021
  • BIC Category: Politics, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society, MEDICAL / Public Health, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Death & Dying, PHILOSOPHY / Political, Domestic Violence, Personal & Public Health, Society & social sciences / Sociology: death & dying, Humanities / Popular philosophy, Humanities / Social & political philosophy


French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-92) said that facing our mortality is the only way to learn the 'art of living'. He was right. This book is about what we can learn from COVID-19, as individuals but also collectively. It argues that this crisis could change our lives for the better, ushering in a more just society.

Exploring eight themes through philosophical lenses, the book asks whether COVID-19 is a misfortune or an injustice, considers the largest cohort of victims (people in old age) and discusses whether life under lockdown is comparable to life in the so-called 'state of nature'. It explores the likely impact of the virus on the global phenomenon of populism and analyses the relationship between COVID-19 and post-truth. One chapter is dedicated to the role of arguably the most important players in the response to the pandemic: the experts. The book ends by considering the spike of reported cases of domestic violence during the lockdown via an analysis of the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel Normal People.


'The global pandemic has made us think about a lot of issues that we don't normally pay much attention to. Are older people more expendable than younger people? When and why should we trust politicians or scientists? Is lockdown fair? Philosophy can't cure COVID-19, but in this serious-minded yet accessible book, Vittorio Bufacchi shows how it can help us get our heads around the many issues the pandemic raises in our daily lives.'
Helen Beebee, Samuel Hall Professor of Philosophy, University of Manchester

'This is a fine, sensitive and thought-provoking discussion, taking readers well beyond COVID-19 into deep concerns about current socio-political moral stances. The book deserves to be read by all those worried about the injustices, sufferings and misperceptions underlying our society; it deserves all the more to be read by those who complacently lack those worries.'
Peter Cave, author of The Myths We Live By: A Contrarian's Guide to Democracy, Free Speech and Other Liberal Fictions


1 Coronavirus and philosophy
2 COVID-19: injustice or misfortune?
3 Old age in the time of coronavirus
4 Life under lockdown: nasty, brutish and short?
5 Is COVID-19 bad for populism?
6 COVID-19, fake news and post-truth
7 COVID-19, experts and trust
8 Normal People, normalised violence
9 Justice after COVID-19
Epilogue: a year of COVID-19


Vittorio Bufacchi is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at University College Cork. His previous books include Violence and Social Justice (2007) and Social Injustice (2012). He has written for the Guardian, the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner.

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