In a video published on May 27th, Gabriel Dorthe, a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy and the social studies of science and technology, speaks to Swiss Public Radio, RTS about the impacts of deconfinement on society and scientific inquiry.
Dorthe, who earned his PhD at UNIL and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Germany, comments that the gradual relaxation of confinement measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are accompanied by a new, more “realistic” definition of freedom. “We are seeing the fracturing of the historically recent fiction of the sovereign individual exercising his freedom, defined as an absence of constraints and responsibility,” he says.
Looking ahead, Dorthe cites historian of science Lorraine Daston, who argues that the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily thrown the world into a temporary state of “ground-zero empiricism, in which almost everything is up for grabs, just as it was for the members of the earliest scientific societies.” Dorthe argues that a renewed emphasis on observation and empiricism will be key for addressing other pressing societal issues, such as biodiversity erosion and climate change. However, learning from the experience of the pandemic, Dorthe says, will require actors in science, policy and society to reconnect with one another.