An annual symposium convening scholars and practitioners


Pharmaceuticals have emerged as a powerful force within modern culture, where they are taken to relieve human suffering, to modify human vulnerability, and to moderate risk of future adverse events.

Many instances of pharmaceutical use fit well within standard medical narratives of disease and treatment, and are appropriate and uncontroversial.  But in other instances, it is less clear that medications are being used to treat “disease.”  Critics have even charged that in some cases diagnostic categories have been designed and publicized to fit (and to sell) a certain drug, and not the other way around.

Pharmaceutical use raises important theological and philosophical questions.  For example, how do pharmaceuticals change our relationship to our bodies? How do humans understand the body’s finitude and contingency in a world filled with colorful pharmaceutical ads, which depict (pharmacologically-modified) bodies in particular, glorified ways? How do pharmaceuticals shape our understanding of suffering and illness? How do they change our practices and expectations regarding care for the body in maintaining health?McDonald Logo

With the generous support of the McDonald Agape Foundation, we will convene a series of four annual conferences that address these important theological, philosophical, and clinical questions.