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‘Pragmatic Pluralism: 'treating the sleeping sickness'

16 October 2019, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm


Erman Sozudogru

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Fexinidazole, the first solely oral treatment for Sleeping Sickness (Human African Trypanosomiasis), was approved by the European Medicines Agency in November 2018. This drug is a crucial tool in efforts to eliminate Sleeping Sickness, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that threatens millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Fexinidazole is the successful outcome of a decade-old partnership, which brought together a range of scientific approaches to collaborate in developing a new drug. A closer look at scientific practices, in this case, shows a great diversity in scientific methods, theories, models and aims. The sheer diversity in scientific practices in general (variety of its methods, theories, models and aims etc.), has received a lot of attention in recent philosophy of science. While philosophers of science made convincing arguments for the epistemic benefits of plurality, there has been less attention on the pragmatic benefits of plurality in science. In this talk, I examine the plurality in scientific practices employed to combat Sleeping Sickness, within the broader context of NTD research. Through this examination, I develop a pragmatic form of pluralism that goes beyond the assertion that 'in science, many things go’ and addresses the question ‘what goes and why?’. Here I assess the extent and the benefits of plurality in scientific practices with regards to the broader epistemic, pragmatic and ethical values.

About the Speaker

Erman Sozudogru