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COVID-19’s Impact on Business and Politics

How should we think about and critically evaluate the torrent of information and reporting coming out daily about the pandemic?

That’s one of the crucial issues that philosophers Onkar Ghate and Gregory Salmieri address in a special episode of ARI’s web series, Philosophy for Living on Earth. You can watch the entire discussion here.

The discussion addresses the need for objectivity in evaluating the information we receive, identifying the proper role of government, and understanding the vital role of business.

The expertise of experts and specialists is crucial, and the ability to communicate that expertise is what allows non-experts to stay informed about complicated and technical subjects. Yet, Ghate and Salmieri point out, this does not mean accepting any expert’s statement on faith. Laymen must be able to distinguish a reliable expert from an unreliable one. Salmieri offers valuable insights on this score; a reliable expert must provide justification for his conclusion rather than simply assert it and respect the fact that he is communicating about his area of expertise to a non-expert.

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For additional resources on how to think objectively about science, the news, and other subjects, I recommend Dr. Salmieri’s course “Objective Thinking,” particularly lecture three, “How to Be an Objective Consumer of Science,” which is available for free on Ayn Rand Campus.

Government’s role in this pandemic is evolving, and, just as it is critical that we evaluate an expert’s claims, it is urgent that we evaluate what government has or hasn’t done in response to the pandemic. Ghate and Salmieri discuss government’s current approach, offer criticisms, and posit alternative approaches that would better enable doctors and other medical professionals to handle the crisis.

One highlight comes toward the end of the discussion when Salmieri gives an impassioned defense of businessmen. During this crisis, companies and CEOs are working tirelessly to ensure that their systems, servers, supply lines, and infrastructure maintain an uninterrupted flow of goods and services despite increased digital and physical demand. We should take inspiration from the productive genius of these individuals now—and remember to appreciate and value them appropriately once this crisis ends.

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Paul Taske

Paul Taske, JD, was a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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