Expertise in crises

Governments are now reevaluating their post-pandemic preparedness. The project analyzes how society can use expertise to develop science-based policies in times of crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic is similar in important respects to natural disasters, war and many other societal challenges. In such situations, decisions must be made quickly. The stakes are high, there's much uncertainty, evidence is constantly changing and values ​​are in conflict with each other. The collective name for this type of situation is "crises".

In order to be able to prepare for future crises, it should be reviewed how scientific expertise can have a greater effect on decision-making. The aim of this project, which bases analysis on the Covid-19 pandemic, is to explore how this can best be done in order to develop science-based policy during a crisis. For this to be possible, expertise is necessary. The insight is sometimes expressed with phrases such as: "listen to the research!" At the same time, experts often disagree, they are sometimes wrong and their advice can be value-laden.

Focusing on three aspects of the problem: disagreement, limitations, and objectivity, this project will, during a three-year period, investigate the foundations of these problems. Rational strategies for dealing with these will also be analyzed. Then the project will propose new institutions, strategies and systems that can meet them.

The project falls within philosophy, primarily social epistemology and scientific theory, but also makes use of empirical psychology and mathematical decision theory. Existing literature on the subject will be summarized and synthesized. It will then be compared with the events of the past two years to draw conclusions about how we can be better prepared for the next crisis.

There is an urgency about the topic, because expertise has recently received a lot of attention in several different academic disciplines. New insights from this project will allow the research to progress. In the future, we expect that crises will occur more and more often due to climate change. When they happen cannot be predicted and it is therefore urgent to provide the governments that are now evaluating and reassessing their preparedness with as much knowledge as possible.



Principal Investigator

Joe Roussos PhD, Philosophy

Project members

Erik Angner Professor, Practical Philosophy


Swedish Research Council