Science and Politics in a Time of Pandemic: Some Epistemological and Political Lessons from the Italian Story

  • Federico Boem Philosophy and Technology section (PHIL), University of Twente (Netherlands).
  • Emanuele Ratti Institut für Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie, JKU (Austria)
Keywords: policy making, epistemic values, inductive risk, covid-19


Making public policy choices (especially on health issues) based on available scientific evidence is an ideal condition for any policy making. However, the mechanisms governing these scenarios are complex, non-linear, and, alongside the medical-health and epidemiological issues, involve socio-economic, political, communicative, informational, ethical and epistemological aspects. In this article we analyze the role of scientific evidence when implementing political decisions that strictly depend on it, as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. In carrying out this analysis, we will focus above all on the Italian case. This, on the one hand, precisely because Italy led the way (among European countries) regarding the containment policies of the pandemic. Secondly, the government's action was immediately criticized in various respects (specifically, by a publication on the Harvard Business Review, but later on also by various political figures and experts of various research fields). Some were calling into question not only the cumbersome political mechanisms, but also suggesting a scarce ability to take scientific evidence into account. On other fronts, there are those who have criticized Italy for its blind and uncritical faith in science and for the paternalism of its decisions. This debate therefore offers the possibility of dealing with some aspects concerning scientific results and their implementation at the political level from the point of view of a political philosophy of science, roughly in the spirit suggested by John Dupré (2016).

How to Cite
Boem, F., & Ratti, E. (2021). Science and Politics in a Time of Pandemic: Some Epistemological and Political Lessons from the Italian Story. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 14(40), 89-124. Retrieved from