The University of Cambridge will be hosting a one-day workshop examining the impact of uncertainty on our decision-making about the COVID-19 pandemic featuring talks from Katie Steele (Australian National University), Krister Bykvist (Stockholm University), Martin Peterson (Texas A&M University), and Nir Eyal (Rutgers University).
A key feature of the COVID-19 pandemic has been uncertainty: we are uncertain what the large-scale effects of policies such as lockdown might be; we are uncertain of the risks associated with researching vaccines; and we are uncertain about such basic issues as whether our best vaccines stop transmission of the disease. These deep and pervasive uncertainties raise a series of philosophical questions regarding who should decide how to proceed in the face of uncertainty, and how they ought to decide. Can we have reasons to adopt policies that we know must be “second-best” given the actual state-of-the-world when we are uncertain how the world is? Should we adopt “precautionary” measures or are these policies inherently irrational? How should we act when we are uncertain not only about the facts but about relevant normative issues?