Webinar ‘How to deal with uncertainties in decision-making in times of COVID-19’

08 April 2020 09:30 till 11:00

In this webinar we will discuss sevaral aspects of decision-making under uncertainties and their ethical implications. Professor Pieter van Gelder discusses the statistical models and how calculations based cost-benefit risk analyses lead to policy decisions. Professor Sabine Roeser discusses the role of ethical concerns that underlie (policy) measures based on risk analysis. While policy decisions often are presumably based on rational decision-making and quantitative methods, emotions concerning risks and risk acceptability should also play an important role, as they can highlight important ethical issues.

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Some of the topics we will address:

  • The General framework for risk-based decision making under uncertainties is presented. 
  • Several cost-benefit analyses in which the options doing nothing, achieving controlled group immunity, and complete lockdown are compared.
  • A comparison with cost-benefit analyses of flood protection measures in the Netherlands is being made. 
  • With the partial or complete lockdown option, very high costs (and health risks) can eventually arise due to a huge increase in unemployment and anarchy. How could these effects be included in the models as well? 
  • Rational versus non-rational measures and how their feasibility is taken into account in analyses.
  • How do these cost-benefit analyses take into account ethical issues? Think of difficult matters such as the value of a human life and differentiation in age.
  • What role can moral emotions and ethical concerns have in political measures and risk analyses?

Some reading material:

The discussion is moderated by dr. Behnam Taebi Scientific Director of TU Delft Safety & Security Institute. You can participate in the discussion by casting your vote on statements and sending in questions.


09.30 Introduction by dr. Behnam Taebi
09.35 Professor Pieter van Gelder
09.55 Q&A with Pieter
10.05 Professor Sabine Roeser
10.25 Q&A with Sabine
10.35 Discussion
11.00 End of Seminar