Professor Ned Hall and Dr. Marzieh Asgari-Targhi have been awarded a grant by the Foundations of Human Behavior Initiative for their project “Mask-wearing during COVID-19: How a lack of conceptual clarity may have contributed to conflicting public health advice.” This grant is coming from The Cowan Research Fund for the Foundations of Human Behavior.
In their project, Hall and Asgari-Targhi will investigate “how causal claims about matters of public health should be considered and communicated” by focusing on the way “a well-documented ambiguity in how causal concepts are used… may give rise to distinctive problems in the communication of scientific results.” As they explain:
"Sometimes, we humans think of causes as “handles” by which we can potentially manipulate their effects; but sometimes, we think of cause-effect relationships as grounded in mechanisms or processes by which an effect may be physically traced back to its causes. Neither way of thinking can be easily reduced to the other, and both are indispensable… Recent debates on using masks during the COVID-19 pandemic reveal exactly this ambiguity in the use of causal concepts."
Marzieh Asgari-Targhi is a Research Associate in Philosophy, and Ned Hall is the Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair.