The Problem of Policymaker Ignorance and Political Responses to COVID-19
11 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 3, 2020
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: Suggested Citation