Leemon McHenry

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Leemon McHenry
North Carolina, United States
Academic work
School or traditionSpeculative philosophy
Process philosophy
Notable worksThe Event Universe, The Illusion of Evidence-Based Medicine

Leemon McHenry is a bioethicist and a lecturer in philosophy at California State University, Northridge, in the United States. He has taught philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Old Dominion University, Davidson College, Central Michigan University, Wittenberg University and Loyola Marymount University, and has held visiting research positions at Johns Hopkins University, UCLA and at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in the University of Edinburgh. His research interests center on medical ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of science.


McHenry received his doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, where he was Vans Dunlop Scholar in Logic and Metaphysics studying with Professor Timothy L. S. Sprigge.


Much of McHenry's philosophical work focuses on the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and process studies. He has devoted attention to Whitehead's attempt to construct a unified general theory from the revolutionary developments in modern physics. McHenry has argued that Whitehead's event ontology is a more adequate basis for achieving this unification than a traditional substance metaphysics. His papers on this subject and a book, The Event Universe, investigate the influence of Maxwell's electromagnetic field and Einstein's special theory of relativity on the ontology of events. In this manner he has defended the naturalized and speculative approach to metaphysics as opposed to analytical and linguistic methods that arose in the 20th century. His main influences include: Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell, W. V. Quine, Karl Popper, Nicholas Maxwell and Timothy Sprigge.

In medical ethics he has focused attention on scientific integrity in clinical research. He has criticized the corporate takeover of medicine and the corrupting influence of the pharmaceutical industry on medicine. This includes dubious claims about chemical imbalance as a marketing ploy for selling antidepressants, direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, industry-sponsored clinical research, and ghostwriting for medical journals. As an example of the latter, he has written articles about GlaxoSmithKline's study 329 on paroxetine and teenagers, and asked that the ghostwritten article about the trial results be retracted by the journal that published it in 2001.[1] In a broader realm, he has argued that the industry-academic partnerships have worsened university research, created increased opportunities for scientific misconduct, and failed to protect academic freedom. This work falls within a new area of inquiry, agnotology, understood as the study of willful acts to spread confusion and deceit. His new book with co-author, Jon Jureidini, is The Illusion of Evidence-Based Medicine.

McHenry has edited several books, authored chapters of numerous academic texts, served as the philosophy review editor for Process Studies (ISBN 0791455734), and participated in the State University of New York's series in philosophy, which brings together the world’s leading contemporary process and analytic philosophers. He has written articles and reviews for Process Studies, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Journal of Medical Ethics,The Review of Metaphysics, Mind, and American Rationalist. His work has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Croatian.

In 2007 he became the literary executor to the late Professor Timothy Sprigge.

Selected publications[edit]


  • 1992, Whitehead and Bradley: A Comparative Analysis, SUNY Series in Systematic Philosophy, Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • 1995, "Quine's Pragmatic Ontology," The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 9/2, pp. 147–158.
  • 1996, "Descriptive and Revisionary Theories of Events", Process Studies, 25, p. 90-103
  • 1997,"Quine and Whitehead: Ontology and Methodology," Process Studies, The Forum, 26, pp. 2–12. (Reply: W. V. Quine, "Response to Leemon McHenry" Process Studies, The Forum, 26, pp. 13–14; reprinted in Process and Analysis: Whitehead, Hartshorne and the Analytic Tradition, ed by George Shields, State University of New York Press, 2003, pp. 171–173, and Quine in Dialogue, ed by Dagfinn Føllesdal and Douglas Quine, Harvard University Press, 2008, pp. 257–58.)
  • 2002, British Philosophers: 1800-2000, ed. with P. Dematteis and P. Fosl, London and Detroit: Gale.
  • 2002, American Philosophers to 1950, ed. with P. Dematteis, London and Detroit: Gale.
  • 2003, Reflections on Philosophy: Introductory Essays, ed. with T. Yagisawa, New York: Longman.
  • 2004, "The Case Against Catholicism: A Historical and Philosophical Analysis," American Rationalist, Part 1, July/August, pp. 8–10, Part 2, September/October, pp. 6–10.
  • 2007, "Maxwell's Field and Whitehead's Events: The Adventure of a Revolutionary Idea" in Subjectivity, Process, and Rationality edited by Michel Weber and P. Basile, Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.
  • 2007, "Commercial Influences on the Pursuit of Wisdom," London Review of Education, vol. 5, no 2, p. 131-142; reprinted and translated into Spanish by Antoni Furió as “La mercantilización del saber: Influencias mercantiles en la búsqueda del conocimiento,” Pasajes: Revista de Pensamiento Contemporaneo, 33, 2010, pp. 31–41.
  • 2007, Consciousness, Reality and Value: Essays in Honour of T. L. S. Sprigge, ed. with P. Basile, Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.
  • 2009, "Popper and Maxwell on Scientific Progress," Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell, ed. by L. McHenry, Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, pp. 233–248.
  • 2010, "Sprigge's Ontology of Consciousness," The Metaphysics of Consciousness ed by P. Basile, J. Kiverstein,P. Phemister, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 5–20.
  • 2011, "The Multiverse Conjecture: Whitehead’s Cosmic Epochs and Contemporary Cosmology” Process Studies 40.1, pp. 5–25.
  • 2015, The Event Universe: The Revisionary Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead, Edinburgh University Press.
  • 2016, "Analytical Critiques of Whitehead's Metaphysics," with George Sheilds, The Journal of the American Philosophical Association, 2, pp. 483-503.
  • 2017, "Whitehead and Russell on the Analysis of Matter," The Review of Metaphysics, 71, pp. 321-342

Medicine and Bioethics

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Melanie Newman, "The Rules of Retraction", BMJ, 341(7785), 11 December 2010, pp. 1246–1248. doi:10.1136/bmj.c6985 PMID 21138994

    Leemon B. McHenry, Jon N. Jureidini, "Industry-sponsored ghostwriting in clinical trial reporting: a case study," Accountability in Research: Policies and Quality Assurance, 15(3), July–September 2008, pp. 152–167. doi:10.1080/08989620802194384 PMID 18792536

    Jon N. Jureidini, Leemon B. McHenry, Peter R. Mansfield, "Clinical trials and drug promotion: Selective reporting of study 329", International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, 20, 2008, pp. 73–81. doi:10.3233/JRS-2008-0426

External links[edit]