74 – How to Understand COVID 19

Katherine Furman

I’m still thinking a lot about the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode I turn away from some of the ‘classical’ ethical questions about the disease and talk more about how to understand it and form reasonable beliefs about the public health information that has been issued in response to it. To help me do this I will be talking to Katherine Furman. Katherine is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Liverpool. Her research interests are at the intersection of Philosophy and Health Policy. She is interested in how laypeople understand issues of science, objectivity in the sciences and social sciences, and public trust in science. Her previous work has focused on the HIV/AIDs pandemic and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015. We will be talking about the lessons we can draw from this work for how we think about the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Stitcher and a range of other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).

Show Notes

Topics discussed include:

  • The history of explaining the causes of disease
  • Mono-causal theories of disease
  • Multi-causal theories of disease
  • Lessons learned from the HIV/AIDs pandemic
  • The practical importance of understanding the causes of disease in the current pandemic
  • Is there an ethics of belief?
  • Do we have epistemic duties in relation to COVID-19?
  • Is it reasonable to believe ‘rumours’ about the disease?
  • Lessons learned from the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak
  • The importance of values in the public understanding of science


Relevant Links


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