Uncertain Policy Decisions During the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world. It has presented us with a series of new challenges, but the policy response may be difficult due to the severe uncertainty of our circumstances. While pressure to take timely action may push towards less inclusive decision procedures, in this paper I argue that precisely our current uncertainty provides reasons to include stakeholders in collective decision-making. Decision-making during the pandemic faces uncertainty that goes beyond the standard, probabilistic one of Bayesian decision theory. Agents may be uncertain not just about factual properties of the world, but also about how to model their decision problems and about the values of the possible consequences of their options. As different stakeholders may have irreconcilable disagreement about how to resolve these uncertainties, decision-making procedures should take everybody’s perspectives into account. Moreover, those communities that are hit harder by the pandemic are also those that are typically excluded from knowledge production. Thus, in the face of Covid-19 uncertainty, both democratic and epistemic considerations highlight the importance of stakeholders’ inclusion in policy decision-making.