Focus on Education
8:58 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Local philosophers discuss Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine

A group of philosophers from several area colleges meet up on a regular basis. They have formed a group called PANTC, which stands for Plato's Academy -- North Tonawanda Campus. In this Focus on Education report,    WBFO's Eileen Buckley talks with a University at Buffalo professor about why they meet and what they talk about.

"We're a bunch of professors and a few graduate students from Western New Yorkm from SUNY Fredonia, Niagara, Canisius and UB, mostly," said Professor David Hershenov, chair at UB's Department of Philosophy. 

Poster from recent Plato’s Academy, North Tonawanda Campus -- PANTC conference.
Poster from recent Plato’s Academy, North Tonawanda Campus -- PANTC conference.
Credit Photo provided by UB

These philosophers meet once a month to discuss articles at JP Bullfeathers in Buffalo. Hershenov and Niagara University philosophy chair James Delaney formed the group in 2011.

Hershenov describes why North Tonawanda Campus in the title of this local group when they meet in Buffalo. 

"Somehow, philosophers in North Tonawanda seem to make some people chuckle in the way philosophers in Buffalo don't," said Hershenov.

This philosophy group is designed as the Plato’s Academy, founded in Athens in 387 BC, the original informal meeting of philosophers.

Much of discussions center around articles about bioethics and the philosophy of medicine and controversial issues.

"We waste a little time gossiping and then we will do two to three hours of serious discuss. Usually it's something related to someone's research. We'll read articles on addiction. We read articles on abortion," said Hershenov.

This past weekend, the group held its annual conference on Bioethics and the Philosophy of Medicine. It featured controversial philosopher professor Christopher Boorse from the  University of Delaware, who has been a world-known philosopher of medicine for the last 40 years.  He is best know for saying that one's own personal values have nothing to do with health and disease.