Dr. Lucie White

Assistant Professor
Ethiek Instituut

Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study (NIAS) Fellow 24-25

Project: Crisis and Catastrophe: Science-Based Policy Justification under Urgency and Uncertainty

I'm interested in the ethics of crisis and catastrophe. An unexpected crisis demands urgent, rapid action. But rapid action necessitates acting under severe uncertainty – with a very limited idea of the implications of public policy measures. This combination of urgency and severe uncertainty makes the ethical justification of policy measures very difficult. Normal procedures for justification require extended periods of evidence gathering to ensure that policy decisions are based on scientifically justified conclusions, and prolonged public consultation to establish that decisions are publicly justified. This is ruled out in a crisis. Yet the drastic policy measures that might be required to effectively contain a crisis are in particularly pressing need of adequate justification.

I am currently working on several interrelated questions to do with science-based policy in a crisis, concerning justification, trust, and responsibility.

I'm also the coordinator of the research theme Health, Science and Society.