Date: Feb 3, 2022
Time: 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Location: Zoom

February 3, 2022: 6:00 pm7:30 pm
Speaker: Jonathan Fuller
Topic: Explaining and Intervening in Epidemics

Abstract: The twentieth century epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose proposed two principles that continue to influence epidemiology today. The first principle states that the causes of cases are different from the causes of the incidence in a population; the second states that population strategies that involve intervening in populations are more effective than high-risk strategies that involve intervening in the lives of vulnerable individuals. Contemporary epidemiologist Nancy Krieger argues that (contrary to a common misconception) epidemiology is a science that is rife with scientific theories. With this in mind, can we understand Rose’s principles as constituting an epidemiological theory? I explore the meaning of Rose’s principles in the context of infectious disease epidemics, using as my example the COVID-19 pandemic. I argue that in contrast to compartment modeling for epidemics, which I suggest is indeed based on an epidemiological theory, Rose’s principles offer a population perspective for epidemiology and are best interpreted as claims about contrastive explanations and predictions in epidemiology.

Format: This will be a synchronous online talk via zoom. 

Bio: Jonathan is an Assistant Professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on the philosophy of medicine. He is currently working on the problem of what general attitude we should take towards the results of biomedical and clinical research, as well as the historical-philosophical question of what makes scientific medicine today fundamentally the same compared to scientific medicine a hundred years ago – and what makes it fundamentally different. He has also worked and published on a range of topics related to covid-19, the metaphysics and classification of contemporary diseases, the modelling of diseases and medical interventions, causal inference, and the philosophy of psychiatry, among other topics.

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