Prof. Dr. Mathias Frisch
Uses and Misuses of Models in Pandemic Policy Advice
I examine the use of early Covid-19 models in support of social distancing measures. Some philosophers and scientists have criticized government decisions early in the pandemic to implement lockdown measures to control the spread of COVID-19 by arguing that these decisions were made on the basis of deeply uncertain evidence against criticisms. I will here argue that these criticisms were based on an overly narrow an understanding of the role of models in public policy advice. Paying close attention to the epistemology of scientific modeling and to what is required of models for the purpose of underwriting precautionary reasoning suggests that epidemiological models were adequate for the purpose of supporting social distancing measures as a form of precaution.
Professor Dr. Mathias Frisch is Full Professor at the Leibniz Universität Hannover (theoretical philosophy, esp. philosophy of science (W3)). He’s got a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, earned between 1992-98. He has held academic positions at several prestigious universities, including Northwestern University and University of Maryland.
Mathias Frisch has been awarded a DFG Kollegforschungsgruppe research grant, "Social Credibility and Trustworthiness of Expert Knowledge and Science-Based Information (SOCRATES)”, for the years 2023-2027. He is Co-Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Philosophy of Science.
Mathias Frisch has authored two books: "Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non-Locality: A Philosophical Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics," published by Oxford University Press in 2005, and "Causal Reasoning in Physics," published by Cambridge University Press in 2014.
Prof. Frisch has also written several articles in refereed journals, such as "Causation in Physics" in The Stanford Encyclopedia in Philosophy, or "Uncertainties, Values, and Climate Targets" in Philosophy of Science. He co-authored "Three ways in which pandemic models may perform a pandemic" in the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics and "When Is Lockdown Justified?" in the Philosophy of Medicine.