Bats, objectivity, and viral spillover risk

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


What should the best practices be for modeling zoonotic disease risks, e.g. to anticipate the next pandemic, when background assumptions are unsettled or evolving rapidly? This challenge runs deeper than one might expect, all the way into how we model the robustness of contemporary phylogenetic inference and taxonomic classifications. Different and legitimate taxonomic assumptions can destabilize the putative objectivity of zoonotic risk assessments, thus potentially supporting inconsistent and overconfident policy decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalHistory and philosophy of the life sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Covid-19
  • Special reservoir hypothesis
  • Viral spillover
  • Zoonotic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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