The Problem of Policymaker Ignorance and Political Responses to COVID-19

11 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2020

See all articles by Scott Scheall

Scott Scheall

Arizona State University, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, Faculty of Social Science; Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Parker Crutchfield

AT Still University

Date Written: April 3, 2020

Abstract

The paper considers the significance of the problem of policymaker ignorance for political efforts to limit human suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To the extent that policymakers are ignorant of knowledge required to deliberately realize this goal, it can be realized only if luck, fortune, or other spontaneous forces intervene to mitigate the effects of policymaker ignorance. We discuss the nature of the knowledge that policymakers require to deliberately realize the goal of limiting suffering due to the virus and the nature of the spontaneous forces that might assist to realize this goal. We also consider the effects that ignorance has on policymakers' motivations and incentives to pursue the relevant goal and conclude, rather dispiritingly, that policymakers may not be earnestly pursuing the goal of limiting suffering due to the novel coronavirus.

Keywords: policymaker ignorance, political epistemology, COVID-19, novel coronavirus, pandemic

JEL Classification: D7, F5, I18, P16, P26, P48

Suggested Citation

Scheall, Scott and Crutchfield, Parker, The Problem of Policymaker Ignorance and Political Responses to COVID-19 (April 3, 2020). ASU Center for the Study of Economic Liberty Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3567948 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3567948

Scott Scheall (Contact Author)

Arizona State University, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, Faculty of Social Science ( email )

7001 E. Williams Field Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85212
United States

Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

United States

Parker Crutchfield

AT Still University ( email )

5850 E Still Circle
Mesa, AZ 85206
United States

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