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A Philosophic Perspective on Infectious Disease Pandemics

The Covid-19 pandemic and the response to it at multiple levels of government have disrupted all of our lives.

We’re just beginning to contemplate the challenge of reopening and rebuilding the economy in the face of ongoing viral spread. To do that, it’s critical to employ the right philosophical framework for thinking about these issues, so as not to be misled by false alternatives, wishful thinking, tribalistic finger-pointing and other forms of distorted thinking.

On Saturday, April 18, the Ayn Rand Institute held an online mini-conference, AynRandCon Live, to present a framework for thinking about the current crisis from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism.

The event featured:

  • Onkar Ghate, ARI senior fellow and chief philosophy officer, on the proper role of government in dealing with the threat of infectious disease: What governmental functions, powers and activities are appropriate both before and during a disease outbreak — and how has America’s ongoing response measured up?
  • Yaron Brook, chairman of ARI’s board of directors and host of The Yaron Brook Show, on the need for government to be constrained by objective laws and objective procedures: What does it look like for political leaders to be objective in their decision-making in regard to such actions as quarantine, shut-in orders, mandatory social distancing, etc.?
  • Gregory Salmieri, lecturer in philosophy at Rutgers University and fellow of the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, on how to think objectively in times of crisis: how to make or to evaluate decisions with dire consequences in the face of tremendous uncertainty, and how to deal with scientific conclusions that we may lack the expertise to validate or even to fully understand.

All four sessions of the event are available on YouTube (below). If you value the ideas presented here and want to help spread them further, please become an ARI member today.

Download episodes on the ARI Live! podcast (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher).

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Keith Lockitch

Keith Lockitch, Ph.D. in physics, is a senior fellow and vice president of content at the Ayn Rand Institute. He focuses primarily on the intersection of science with current events and policy issues. He is a senior editor of New Ideal.

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