How to Build a Ship while Sailing it

The novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has had far-reaching effects on public health around the world. Attempts to prevent the spread of the disease by quarantine have led to large-scale global socioeconomic disruption. During the outbreak, public authorities and politicians have struggled with how to manage widespread ignorance regarding the virus.

A new research provides evidence that the temporality of non-knowing and its intersection with knowing is a force that leads political decision-making during the covid-19 crisis. Illuminating the analysis with statements given by the Finnish government to the media in decision-making documents and in press conferences, the authors propose that a crisis situation, itself, seems to demand from political decision-makers dynamic action while simultaneously knowing little (‘non-knowing’) about the different fronts of tackling the pandemic.

The authors come the conclusion that non-knowing must be recognized explicitly as an enduring and central condition in decision-making, called ‘epistemic humility.’ The open access article ‘Building a Ship while Sailing It.’ Epistemic Humility and the Temporality of Non-knowledge in Political Decision-making on COVID-19 is published in Social Epistemology.