Blinded by ‘the science’: COVID-19 and the authority of science in public policy

The choices made by governments are not based on science, but policy, that mixture of ideology, politics, and pragmatism. Governments are operating on the basis of choices between a range of possible outcomes produced by modelling. That is, projections built on a range of assumptions and suppositions. Governments should not be able to avoid scrutiny and accountability for their actions by leaning on the authority of science.

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David Runciman: Coronavirus has not suspended politics – it has revealed the nature of power

In an article in The Guardian, David Runciman shows how the pandemic has removed “one layer of political life to reveal something more raw underneath”. He writes, “As Hobbes knew, to exercise political rule is to have the power of life and death over citizens. The only reason we would possibly give anyone that power is because we believe it is the price we pay for our collective safety. But it also means that we

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Herd immunity or herd culling? Shades of Bentham, Spencer and Galton stalk government COVID-19 responses

Seeping faintly through the pronouncements and policies of some government responses to the coronavirus pandemic are the vapours of older belief systems; a whiff of utilitarianism, the scent of social Darwinism, and the fetid reek of eugenics. Examination of the UK government’s ‘herd immunity’ pandemic response suggests that it is not too farfetched to connect contemporary politics with these ostensibly outdated ideas.

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Conservatism and liberalism: the broken trajectories of modern politics

Modern politics in most democracies is largely organised around versions of the competing world views of liberalism and conservatism. But neither of the loose ideological gangs that cluster around the flags of the conservative and liberal camps (Right and Left) seem intellectually prepared to address the major problems facing the world.

To any clear-eyed observer the current trajectory is taking us to an undesirable place, and reliance on the earlier assumptions of some sort of meaning or progress, transcendental or immanent, unfolding into the future is insupportable.

The link between past and future is broken, and meeting today’s challenges needs to beign with a reorientation of political perceptions.

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