Dr David Thunder: What is the Proper Role of Expert Knowledge in the Management of a Public Crisis?

17 June 2022

In this presentation, Dr David Thunder offers a preliminary explanation and assessment of the role of expert knowledge in national and international responses to Covid-19, and attempts to draw some general conclusions relevant to future crises, whether concerning public health, pandemics, climate change, or food and energy shortages. These reflections will feed into a book entitled “The Limits of Centralised Governance as a Tool of Crisis Management: Five lessons from the Covid Pandemic”.

Dr David Thunder is a researcher and lecturer in political philosophy at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra. He has held several academic positions, including Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Theory at Bucknell University and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Princeton University’s James Madison Program. Dr Thunder earned his BA and MA in philosophy at University College Dublin, and his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Notre Dame. In 2016, he was awarded with a prestigious five-year Ramón y Cajal grant (2017-21) by the Spanish government in recognition of his outstanding research achievements. David’s professional passion is the study of the conditions under which a free and flourishing human society can be created and preserved over time. This fundamental concern has led him to develop a special interest in governance under conditions of complexity, the role of civil society associations in a free society, and normative theories of federalism. His writings include Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and The Ethics of Citizenship in the 21st Century (edited volume, Springer, 2019), and numerous articles in prominent peer reviewed journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Political Theory, The Journal of Social Philosophy, and the Journal of Business Ethics. His contributions to public debate include appearances on Newstalk, TV3’s The Tonight Show and GB News’s Uncancelled. He has also contributed op eds to The Irish Times and numerous Spanish newspapers, including El Mundo, El País, and Diario de Navarra. You can find David’s commentary on current affairs at

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that it was about more than just public health and the political, economic and societal aspects of the response are of far greater significance than the virus itself. There remains a continued drive toward the transformation of our societies in ways that threaten democracy and our existing ways of life. Open Society Sessions aim to examine the political, societal and economic dimensions of our recent experience and analyse developments in the future.

Publisher’s note: The opinions and findings expressed in articles, reports and interviews on this website are not necessarily the opinions of PANDA, its directors or associates.

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