Fast Science and the Philosophy of Science (guest post by Jacob Stegenga) – Daily Nous

“So much science having so much impact, yet philosophers of science have been relatively quiet…” The following is a guest post* by Jacob Stegenga, reader in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, sharing his and other philosophers’ thoughts on “the role philosophy of science should play during the sort of fast science that we are witnessing today during the pandemic and lockdown.” It first appeared at Auxiliary Hypotheses, the blog of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science. Fast Science and the Philosophy of Science by Jacob Stegenga We are living through one of the strangest and most anxiety-provoking times that most of us can remember—in lockdown, separated from friends, lovers, colleagues, work, extended family, and in some cases immediate family, to slow the spread of this new virus, SARS-CoV-2. The threat of this virus, and the effectiveness and harms of the social policies meant to mitigate this threat, have become the most important scientific issues of a generation. So it is worth asking: what is the role, if any, of philosophy of science during this pandemic and global lockdown? Should we be trying to get in on the dispute between, say, Neil Ferguson (the most prominent epidemiologist whose models predicted dire consequences of the pandemic and who encouraged strict lockdown policies) and John Ioannidis (the most prominent epidemiologist who has criticized the dire model forecasts and lockdown policies)? I recently posed this question to colleagues on social media. The responses were insightful, and suggested that the discussion could benefit from broader engagement with our discipline. Thus, here I reproduce some of the motivation for the question and summarize several themes from the responses. So far in the lockdown—May whatever-it-is-today—I am not aware of a systematic piece written by a philosopher of science on the pandemic or the policy response (if you know of one, I would be grateful if anyone reading this would direct me to it). Of course, I do not mean a journal article—our journals move too slowly for this—but I mean something deeper and more impactful than what normally appears in social media or blogs. Eric Winsberg has amassed an impressive collection of resources about the pandemic on his Facebook feed, and commentaries there have been..
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