How should policy-makers measure the impact of far-reaching policies? Johanna Thoma looks at some of the issues involved in relying on a single metric.
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.
Science and policy in extremis, part 1: what can we learn from the UK’s initial response to COVID-19?
SAGE uses a set of assumptions called the “reasonable worst-case scenario” in its pandemic […]
What’s really at stake in the mind-body debate? Jonathan Birch looks at some of the explanatory differences in approaches to the metaphysics of consciousness.
Policies that suppress or control COVID-19 prevent illness and save lives, but exact an economic toll. How should we balance lives and livelihoods to determine which policy is best? Richard Bradley, Alex Voorhoeve et al. compare benefit-cost and social welfare approaches to the pandemic.
Do we need to prove that we’re not living in a computer simulation? Jonathan Birch looks at G. E. Moore’s famous argument against scepticism.
How does the role of scientist relate to the role of policy-maker? Philip Thonemann looks at coronavirus science, public policy and the value free ideal.
How can findings in virology help answer ontological questions of process and substance? In the final post in this series, Stephan Guttinger looks at viral life cycles and the role of intrinsic properties.
What happens when a virus crosses species? Stephan Guttinger looks at viral jumps and the origins of pandemics.
It seems natural to picture viruses as individual microscopic entities, but might there be another more accurate way to think about them? In the first of this three-part series, Stephan Guttinger presents the case for a process view of viruses.
What is the influence of community on public health? Katherine Furman considers some of the social aspects of the pandemic.
Immunity testing has been touted as one of the best ways to escape lockdown, but just how accurate will these tests have to be? Richard Bradley and Liam Kofi Bright look at inductive risk and policy-making during the pandemic.
With fake news and disinformation seemingly thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic, J. McKenzie Alexander looks at the epistemology and psychology of fringe beliefs.
Could the universe be deterministic at some levels and indeterministic at others? In the final post in this series, Christian List looks at micro and macro levels of description.
What are the requirements of free will, and how can we show that these requirements are met? In the second post in this series, Christian List proposes an indispensability argument for the existence of free will.
Is there space for free will within a scientific worldview? In the first of this three part series, Christian List looks at free will scepticism and outlines his own compatibalist response.
Christian List looks at majoritarianism, Condorcet’s paradox and the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
How are humans able to act cooperatively and why don’t we see such behaviour in other primates? Jonathan Birch looks at the concept of “joint know-how”.
In the second of this two-part series, Joe Mazor looks at how the news media can achieve the right kind of impartiality.
In the first of this two-part series, Joe Mazor looks at media impartiality, what it is, and when and why it is important.
How much detail is the right amount of detail for a scientific explanation? David Kinney looks at getting things just right.
Should doctors be allowed to prescribe homeopathic treatments on the NHS? John Worrall looks at the scientific and ethical status of homeopathy.
Liam Kofi Bright, currently at Carnegie Mellon University, joins LSE Philosophy in September. We thought we’d celebrate his imminent arrival with some questions.
Reproductive Choices and Climate Change Part 2: should individuals have fewer children to mitigate climate change?
It is claimed that having fewer children will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but is it that straightforward? Eric Brandstedt looks at some of the complexities of this recommendation.
Reproductive Choices and Climate Change Part 1: can you reduce your emissions by having fewer children?
Our lifestyle choices determine our individual carbon footprints, including the decision whether or not to have children. But should parents should be held responsible for the emissions of future generations?
Whose interests should matter when deciding a nation’s border policy? Campbell Brown takes a moral look at border control.
How should US policy-makers choose a replacement for the Affordable Care Act? Dan Hausman looks at the values and economic complications guiding health care reform.
In the final post in this series, Jonathan Birch considers the development of large-scale human cooperation.
Has the time come for a revival of the “cell state” perspective? In part 4 of this series, Jonathan Birch looks at the evolution of multicellular life.
In the third installment in this series, Jonathan Birch looks at “horizontal transmission” and relatedness in bacteria.
How can we explain the evolution of altruism? In part 2 of this series, Jonathan Birch considers “Hamilton’s Rule”.
In the first installment of this five-part series, Jonathan Birch looks at biological altruism, a key concept from his new book The Philosophy of Social Evolution.
How do you hope to be thought of after you die? In his final post in this series, Luc Bovens looks at attitudes towards the dead.
The science of predicting hurricanes is crucial for disaster management and insurance, but also raises difficult methodological and philosophical questions. In this post, Joe Roussos asks whether hurricane modellers should average the results from different models of hurricane frequency.
Can compulsory formal education be justified on liberal grounds? Christina Easton on J. S. Mill, John Rawls and the famous Wisconsin v. Yoder court case.
In the second part of this series, Luc Bovens looks at a good death and a future without oneself.
In her second post in this series, Anna Mahtani explores the parallels between philosophy of language and decision theory’s treatment of indexicals and vagueness.
In the first in this three-part series, Luc Bovens looks at death, immortality and the worthwhile life.
Decision theorists and philosophers of language have a lot to learn from one another. In this post, Anna Mahtani looks at the use and interpretation of credences and preferences.
Can we give accurate scientific explanations for social phenomena? In this post, CPNSS Research Fellow Alexander Krauss looks at the proposed link between economic inequality and democratic change.
Should we be blamed for the negative consequences of otherwise wholly good acts? Tom Rowe considers the moral risks faced by aid givers.
Campbell Brown is one of the most recent additions to our faculty. We thought we’d welcome him to the Department with some questions.
What does justice demand of individuals in an unjust society? Chris Marshall considers the personal implications of distributive justice.
Most sports ban certain performance-enhancing drugs and penalise those who use them. But is the use of these drugs morally wrong? Heather Dyke looks at the ethics of doping.
Can the concept of “temporal selves” help us understand temptation and restraint? Johanna Thoma on self-negotiation.
Richard Bradley’s written a new book about decision theory. We decided to ask him some questions about it.
With the current refugee crisis showing no sign of abating, a fair and efficient method for distributing people to different countries is urgently needed. In this post, Philippe van Basshuysen looks at matching systems.
With essay deadlines looming for many of our students, Matt Parker relives some of the angst involved in writing philosophy. You’re not alone.
What separates human beings from their animal ancestors? Andrew Buskell examines the concept of “cumulative culture”.
Susanne Burri explores some of the moral complexities of the WWII bombings.
What’s so bad about the placebo effect? John Worrall examines the recent Nurofen labelling “scandal”.
With the UK government considering a ban on the prescription of homeopathic remedies on the NHS, John Worrall examines the rationale for such a proposal and suggests that the decision is not as simple as it might initially seem.
In this talk from ETH Zurich’s Workshop on Time in Physics, Bryan Roberts introduces weak interactions and argues that the laws of nature are directed in time.
We’re pleased to announce the launch of The Forum’s new blog.
With the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference coming up, Eric Brandstedt asks what we should expect from the talks and considers the relationship between ethical and political perspectives on the climate change debate.
In our latest video, Dr Alex Voorhoeve discusses utilitarianism, egalitarianism and the path to Universal Health Coverage.
What can microbiology teach us about cultural evolution? Philosopher of Biology, Jonathan Birch, discusses “horizontal transmission”.
The US presidential campaign is under way and to help voters see past the rhetoric, Stefan Schubert has used a tool developed by ClearerThinking.org to highlight fallacious reasoning and factual inaccuracies in the debates.
In this brand new LSE Philosophy Video, Professor J. McKenzie Alexander discusses game theory, evolutionary game theory and the evolution of morality.
A proposal to help British breweries and pubs promote responsible drinking, by Luc Bovens.
Listen to Dr Jonathan Birch’s recent talk at The University of Oxford.
In the latest issue of Scientific American, Professor Christian List discusses the philosophical foundations of Einstein’s view of quantum mechanics.
In a recent article in The Atlantic, LSE philosopher of science Bryan W. Roberts argues that humans are what make AI weapons so scary.
LSE Philosophy hosted The Eighth Workshop in Decisions, Games and Logic (DGL) 17-19 June 2015. The DGL workshop series aims to bring together graduate students, post-docs and researchers from philosophy, economics and logic working on formal approaches to rational individual and interactive decision making.
Countries around the world are setting out on the path to Universal Health Coverage but there are difficult choices to face along the way. Philosophy can help.
Can altruism be reconciled with evolutionary theory? Philosopher of biology, Jonathan Birch, discusses “Hamilton’s Rule”.
For those of you unable to attend the recent meetings of the Sigma Club, you can now view photos from our regular philosophy of physics lectures on Flickr.
The 3rd LSE–Bayreuth Student Philosophy Conference took place 7-8 May at LSE. As you’ll be able to see from the photos, this year’s conference was a huge success!
We make countless judgements each day based on our perceptions. But can we really trust our senses? In a recent paper, Peter Dennis considers this question and poses a new challenge to one attempt to answer it.
Jonathan Birch specialises in the philosophy of biology and in this interview – “Darwinian conundrums” – he discusses topics such as natural selection, the origins of human cooperation and the role of philosophy in science.
The latest issue of the British Journal of Undergraduate Philosophy (BJUP) features this interview with LSE philosopher Professor John Worrall.