When advisors warned of “significant concerns” about the Alpha variant, the UK government acted quickly. But suspicions about Alpha’s greater transmissibility were first noted a week earlier. Jonathan Birch suggests that when the stakes are so high, even low confidence in a particular outcome can be enough to justify policy interventions.
How should philosophical writing employ the first-person plural, “we”? Simon Glendinning reflects on his recent work on the philosophy of Europe.
What does the evidence say about the effectiveness of statins and about the balance between effectiveness and possible adverse side-effects? John Worrall – a long-time analyst of evidence in medicine – has recently had personal reason to reconsider these questions.
Should artificial agents’ responses to difficult choices align with our own moral intuitions? Johanna Thoma considers the difficulties involved in programming machines to deal with risk, and how things look different from an aggregate point of view.
How can the philosophy of science help inform our response to COVID-19? Stephan Guttinger looks at the history and philosophy of ribonucleic acid (RNA), a central but often overlooked molecule in the story of the pandemic.
It’s clear that beliefs can be wrong about the way the world is, but can they also be wrong in a moral sense? Lewis Ross looks at the moral status of belief.
Scientific advice cannot be completely neutral or independent, says Jonathan Birch. But records from autumn 2020 suggest that the Cabinet Office leant on SAGE to build in optimistic assumptions about the government’s ability to control the pandemic.
How can we mitigate the risks of future pandemics? Jonathan Birch looks at the role of human behaviour in the emergence of new zoonotic diseases.
Modelling is vital if we are to control COVID-19, but it is not infallible. In this post, Roman Frigg and James Nguyen explain how epidemiological models work and consider the uncertainty inherent in their predictions.
Can the justification for current COVID restrictions be challenged on scientific grounds? Philippe van Basshuysen and Lucie White look at the evidence used by Winsberg et al. in their case against lockdowns.